Chapter 9.70


9.70.010    General provisions.

9.70.020    Purpose and scope.

9.70.030    Definitions.

9.70.040    Public health, safety and welfare nuisances.

9.70.050    Violations and enforcement.

9.70.060    Severability.

9.70.010 General provisions.

This chapter shall be known as the “Public Nuisance Ordinance of the City of Washougal,” may be cited as such, and will be referred to hereinafter as this chapter. (Ord. 1390 § 1 (Exh. A), 2000)

9.70.020 Purpose and scope.

(1) The purpose of this chapter is to promote the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of Washougal, Washington, and to protect neighborhoods against hazards, blighting and deteriorating influences or conditions that have a negative impact on families, encourage social disorder and crime, and decrease area property values, by establishing minimum standards for the maintenance of all residential and nonresidential buildings, and structures, and vacant and improved land.

(2) This chapter shall apply to all buildings, structures and lands within the city regardless of the use, the date of construction, improvement or alteration.

(3) This chapter shall be fairly, sensibly and reasonably applied to promote the maintenance of all existing buildings and land in the city. The intent is to ensure that individuals and families do not suffer undue hardship.

(4) This chapter shall not require changes in existing buildings and utilities when alterations were installed and have been maintained in accordance with relevant building code in effect at the time of construction or alteration of the subject building or utilities. The only exception is when the building has been determined to be an imminent hazard, unsafe, unhealthy or deteriorated. (Ord. 1390 § 1 (Exh. A), 2000)

9.70.030 Definitions.

The following are definitions for terms used in this chapter. They are not intended to serve as regulations in and among themselves. Terms not listed in this chapter shall have their normal and customary meanings.

“Abate” means to repair, replace, remove, destroy or otherwise remedy the condition in question by such means and in such a manner and to such an extent as the enforcement officer, in his/her judgment, determines is necessary in the interest of the general health, safety and welfare of the community.

“Abandoned vehicle” means a car, truck, boat or other similar means of conveyance, for which any personal claim or right has ceased.

“Agent” means a person residing within the state of Washington, authorized to make or order repairs, service to units and receive notices.

“Animals” mean and include, but are not limited to, geese, ducks, chickens, pigs, goats and sheep, horses, rabbits, cattle, exotic animals, chinchilla, nutria, fox, mink, deer, raptors, opossums, skunks, raccoons, venomous and nonvenomous snakes and other reptiles, insects such as bees, hornets, wasps, or any insects that might be injurious to the public or destroy buildings, landscaping or crops.

“Back yard” means the open space extending the full width of a lot between a building and the back property line as found at WMC Title 18, Zoning.

“Barbed wire” means two or more strands of wire twisted together with sharp vertical barbs, most frequently used in agriculture to keep animals in an enclosure. “Razor wire” means a single strand of flattened wire which has been shaped, sharpened and barbed.

“Blight” means to cause to deteriorate, a condition resulting in withering, crumbling, decay or to descend to a less adequate level. To decompose, something that impairs or destroys, to suffer from or become lower in quality, character or condition.

“Building” means any structure designed for occupancy or any structure used or intended for supporting or sheltering any use or occupancy.

“Building materials” means and includes lumber, plumbing materials, wall board, sheet metal, plaster, brick, cement, asphalt, concrete block, roofing material, cans of paint and similar materials.

“Civil violation” means a violation of a provision of this chapter, for which a monetary penalty may be imposed. Each 24-hour period in which a violation occurs or continues to exist is a separate violation.

“Commercial vehicles” means and shall include, but not be limited to truck tractors and/or trailers, dump trucks, and other construction equipment or the trailers they are transported on, and commercial vehicles over 10,000 pounds gross weight, or exceeding 20 feet in length and/or 7.5 feet in width, etc.

“Compost pile” means the accumulation of vegetative matter piled in such a manner as to encourage decomposition, decay or rotting of the materials which are used as fertilizer for gardens and landscaping.

“Debris” means substances of little or no apparent economic value, including, but not limited to, recycled lumber, scrap newspaper, furniture parts, stoves, sinks, cabinets, household fixtures, refrigerators, vehicles or parts thereof, abandoned, broken or neglected equipment, or the scattered remains of items.

“Deterioration” means a lowering in quality of the condition or appearance of a building, structure or parts thereof characterized by holes, breaks, rot, crumbling, or other evidence of physical decay or neglect or excessive use or lack of maintenance.

“Dumping” means the throwing out, dumping or discarding of unwanted articles on property other than your own, including, but not limited to, household trash, vehicles or vehicle parts, furniture, appliances, cut brush, grass, glass, papers, cans, bottles, or other items on any property that is not disposed of in an officially designated disposal site.

“Dwelling” means any building or a portion thereof which is intended, or designated to be built, used, rented, leased, or hired out for human occupancy, or which is occupied, by a human being.

“Enforcement officer(s)” means any person(s) designated by the chief of police, or the planning development director for the purpose of inspecting public and private property with the specific intent to abate public nuisances or zoning violations.

“Exotic animal” means any of the following:

(1) Venomous or constricting species of snake; capable of inflicting serious physical harm or death to human beings;

(2) Nonhuman primates and prosimians;

(3) Bears;

(4) Nondomestic species of felines, including, but not limited to, cougars, bobcats, lynx, etc.;

(5) Nondomestic species of canines and their hybrids, including wolf and coyote hybrids;

(6) The order of crocodilia, including alligators, crocodiles, caiman and gavials; or

(7) Any other nondomestic animal that, either by behavior or by complaints from a neighbor or other person in the vicinity, has demonstrated a dangerous propensity for conduct that poses a threat to the public welfare.

“Fences,” “walls,” and “hedges” mean a self-standing accessory structure including landscape planting, designed and intended to serve as a barrier or a means of enclosing a yard or other area, or other structure; or to serve as a boundary feature separating two or more properties.

“Front yard” means the open space extending the full width of a lot between a building and the front property line.

“Graffiti” means a drawing, message, slogan, name or inscription written on some surface that can be viewed by an individual or by the public, not including utility locate markings. Often, but not always, written with spray paint, indelible marker, crayon, pen or ink.

“Health hazard” means the presence of any item(s) which adversely impact or jeopardize the well-being or health of an individual. Such items include evidence of occupancy without adequate water and sanitation facilities, or may be inclusive of human or animal waste, medical or biological waste, poisons, sharps, gaseous or combustible materials, radioactive waste, dangerous or corrosive chemicals or liquids, flammable or explosive materials, friable asbestos, and decayed matter.

“Imminent hazard” means a condition of real property that places a person’s health or property in high risk of danger when such condition is immediate, impending or the point of happening and menacing.

“Junk vehicle” means a vehicle meeting at least three of the following requirements:

(1) Is three years old or older;

(2) Is extensively damaged, such damage including but not limited to any of the following:

(a) A broken window or windshield, or missing wheels, tires, motor or transmission;

(3) Is apparently inoperable;

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

“Junk yard” means the dismantling, storage, or handling in any manner of junked vehicles, machinery or parts, for the purpose of storage or sales of dismantled material, junk and scrap.

“Litter” means all waste material, including, but not limited to, cans, bottles, glass, paper, cut brush or grass, tires and other vehicle parts, or any other items tossed, thrown, or discarded in a place other than a legally designated disposal site.

“Motor vehicle” means and includes every device capable of being moved upon a pubic highway and in, upon, or by which any persons or property is or may be transported or drawn upon a public highway.

“Nondomesticated species” means any species of animals that are not commonly considered tame and not generally accustomed to living among humans and being raised by humans as pets or as livestock.

“Obstructions” means tables, chairs, signs, sandwich boards, barricades, sand, dirt, gravel, bark dust, brick or concrete block, cut brush, trash bags or garbage cans, lumber and other construction supplies, or any material or thing placed in the right-of-way without a valid encroachment permit.

“Open and abandoned ground cavities” means and includes, but is not limited to, unfilled wells, pits, vaults, basements, foundations, cesspools, basins, etc., which have been abandoned or are no longer used for the purpose for which they were constructed or which are maintained contrary to law.

“Owner” means a person, persons or legal entity listed as current title holder as recorded in the official records of Clark County, the state of Washington, or other legal entities.

“Premises” means any building, lot, parcel, real estate, land or portion of land whether improved or unimproved including adjacent sidewalks and parking strips.

“Public nuisance” means a thing, act, omission to act, occupation, or use of property which annoys, injures or endangers the safety, health, comfort or repose of the public, offends public decency, is offensive to the senses, unlawfully interferes with, obstructs or renders dangerous any portion of the city, or in any way renders other persons insecure in life or use of property, or obstructs the free use of property so as to essentially interfere with the comfort and enjoyment of life and property.

“Recreational vehicle” means and shall include, but not be limited to, motor homes, travel trailers, camper vans, pickups and campers, motorcycles, snowmobiles, dune/sand buggies, boats and trailers, etc.

“Responsible party” means an occupant, agent, lessor, lessee, manager, licensee, or other person having control over a structure or parcel of land and in the case where the demolition of a structure is proposed as a means of abatement, any lien holder whose lien interest is recorded in the official records of the Clark County real property listings.

“Rubble” means broken solid surface fragments usually resulting from decay or deterioration of a building; miscellaneous mass of broken or apparently worthless materials.

“Side yard” means the open space extending from the front yard to the rear yard between a building and the nearest side property line.

“Tenant” means one who is not the legal owner of record, but has legal possession of property for which he pays rent or which he holds by lease, usually the resident of the property.

“Trash covered premises” means and shall include, but not be limited to, debris in the form of cans, bottles, glass, crockery, ashes, boxes, crates, packing material, waste paper, junk vehicles or the parts thereof, metal or plastic articles, broken stone or cement, lumber not neatly piled, lumber stored in front yards, broken or discarded building materials, discarded appliances or furniture, mattresses, bedding, clothing, rags, tree and vegetation trimmings, and all other trash and debris which may harbor insects, rodent or other harmful pest infestations or may become a fire hazard.

“Unsecured structure” means a structure that is vacant with a damaged or open door, window or other opening not secured in accordance with city standards to prevent unauthorized entry.

“Weeds” and “trees” mean all noxious weeds and other rank growths upon public or private property to include, but not be limited to, blackberry vines, Russian thistle, tansy, poison oak/ivy, deadly nightshade, or any toxic weed, or uncultivated plant (whether growing or otherwise) weeds, or uncultivated shrubs or growth, the existence of any dead, diseased, infested or dying tree that may constitute a danger to humans, homes, streets, sidewalks or any portion thereof. (Ord. 1390 § 1 (Exh. A), 2000)

9.70.040 Public health, safety and welfare nuisances.

The following provisions are declared public nuisances due to presence of a threat to public health, safety and welfare. These nuisances also have been found to adversely affect property values in the city.

(1) Animals. The keeping or confining of any animals, insects, reptiles, birds or fowls on any premises which would pose a threat of injury to persons, damage to property or excessive or annoying noise or odor or would otherwise cause detriment to the health, safety and welfare of neighboring persons and properties is a public nuisance. This chapter shall not apply to:

(a) Properly licensed public or private zoos, or museums;

(b) School classroom displays;

(c) Laboratories and research facilities maintained by scientific or educational institutions that are otherwise regulated by law;

(d) Private or commercial activities such as circuses, fairs or zoological parks which institutions are otherwise regulated by law;

(e) Any animal which is allowed by the zoning code.

(2) Barbed and Razor Wire. No person or individual shall install, attach or permit to be installed or attached any barbed or razor wire upon any portion of their property within the city limits. To do so is declared to be a public nuisance. Exceptions include:

(a) Agricultural property where barbed wire fences are used to contain livestock.

(b) Commercial, military, civic or institutional property which has a solid material or chain link fence no less than six feet in height which may be topped with wire.

(3) Basketball Hoops. The erection, maintenance or allowing of any basketball hoop within the right-of-way of any public street that is so situated such that persons using the basketball hoop are playing within the improved portion of the public right-of-way is declared to be a public nuisance.

(4) Building and Structure. A building or structure is a public nuisance when it becomes deteriorated, damaged, in need of repair, left vacant, unsecured, or any portion of a building or structure remaining on a site after the demolition or destruction of a building, or whenever the building or structure has been damaged by any natural or man made disaster, or has become dilapidated or deteriorated so as to become an attractive nuisance to children, a harbor for vagrants, criminals, or to enable persons to resort to commit unlawful acts, which present a threat to the health, safety and welfare of the community. All buildings and structures are to be maintained in a condition that does not pose a threat to the health and safety of any person.

(5) Fences, Walls, and Hedges. All fences, walls and retaining walls on the premises shall be safe and structurally sound. Fences shall be maintained so that they do not constitute a hazard, blight or condition of disrepair, graffiti covered, leaning, missing slats or blocks, sagging, fallen, decayed, rotting, damaged or peeling paint. Fencing with discarded or mismatched pieces of wood or other materials, corrugated metal or plastic sheets, pipe, tires, bedsprings, or other materials not originally intended as fencing constitutes a public nuisance.

(6) Foul or Annoying Animal Quarters. The keeping, using or maintaining of any pen, stable, lot, place or premises in which any animals, livestock or fowl may be confined or kept in such manner as to be nauseous, foul or offensive is a public nuisance.

(7) Graffiti. All sidewalks, walls, buildings, fences, signs, and their structures or surfaces shall be kept free from graffiti when the graffiti is visible from the street or other public or private property. The allowing of graffiti to remain is declared to be a public nuisance.

(8) Littering. It shall be considered a public nuisance for any person to throw, dump, drop, deposit, discard or otherwise dispose of any litter upon any public or private property, including but not limited to any street, sidewalk, alley, vacant land, recreational area, school, shoreline or waters in the city, except at a legally designated litter disposal site.

(9) Maintenance of Swimming and Landscape Pools. All swimming pools, landscape pools and spas shall be properly maintained so as not to create a safety hazard or harbor insect infestation, or create visibly deteriorated or blighted appearance. Pools not properly maintained are declared to be a public nuisance.

(10) Obstructions – Public Rights-of-Way. See Chapter 12.20 WMC.

(11) Opened and Abandoned Ground Cavities. Unfilled wells, pits, basements, vaults, cesspools, foundations, mines, caves or other cavities which have been abandoned or are no longer used for the purpose for which constructed, which pose a danger to life and health are declared to be a public nuisance.

(12) Refrigerators. Any icebox, refrigerator, deep freeze or other container, which has an airtight door or lid, snap lock or other automatic locking device, which may not be released from the inside, which is permitted to remain outside or within any unoccupied or abandoned building, dwelling, other structure, or in a place accessible to children is a public nuisance.

(13) Trash Covered Premises. All premises and vacant land, whether improved or unimproved, shall be maintained free from any accumulation of garbage, household trash, litter, rubble, debris, etc. The causing, maintaining or permitting of trash-covered premises is declared to be a public nuisance.

(14) Unfinished or Partially Destroyed Structures. The causing or permitting of any abandoned or partially destroyed building, billboard or structure, or any building or structure partially torn down or demolished or commenced and left unfinished, or that has been in part or as a whole moved from its original location to a new location within the city and not completed or readied for the use or occupancy for which it was originally built, is declared to be a public nuisance.

(15) Unsound, Putrid or Unwholesome Substances. The keeping or allowing to be kept in any building, yard, enclosure, public place or private property of any unsound, putrid or unwholesome substances, swill, offal, and any accumulation of spoiled, partially or fully decomposed rotting or discarded animal, vegetable or other matter that attends the preparation, handling, consumption, storage or decay of plant and animal matter including meats, fish, fowl, fruits, vegetable or dairy products and their waste wrappers or containers is a public nuisance. This does not include, however, properly maintained vegetative compost bins or piles.

(16) Vegetation. See Chapter 7.08 WMC.

(17) Vehicle and Vehicle Accessories Parking and Storage. The noncommercial outdoor storage of vehicles and vehicle accessories is permitted provided the following standards are met:

(a) All motor and recreational vehicles shall be parked in a designated driveway, parking space, carport or garage.

(b) Junk vehicles must be registered to a resident of the property. The vehicle must be under repair and the total period during which the vehicle is inoperable shall not exceed 15 days. This condition of repair to a junk vehicle is not to occur more than three times during any 12-month period.

(c) Junk vehicle parts and vehicle accessories, such as tow dollies, engine pullers, etc., shall not be stored outside of an enclosed building except in an area which is not visible from any part of any private property, public streets, highways and sidewalks. Under no circumstances shall storage of junk vehicle parts and vehicle accessories be allowed in the front yard or side yards with a flanking street.

(d) Canopies, shells, unmounted campers, dune buggies, ATVs, or boats with or without trailers, motorcycles, etc., shall not be stored in the front yard (other than allowed as described in subsection (17)(a) of this section) or side yards with a flanking street.

(e) No truck or other motor vehicle or trailer exceeding one-ton capacity or commercial, industrial or agricultural equipment and/or machinery, shall be stored or parked for a continuous period exceeding one hour on any public street or any public right-of-way, except for a reasonable period of loading or unloading.

(f) No vehicles shall be parked for a continuous period exceeding 24 hours on any public street or any public right-of-way or as further restricted by WMC 10.32.030.

(18) Weeds, Trees and Other Vegetation. See Chapter 7.08 WMC. (Ord. 1611 § 1 (Exh. A), 2008; Ord. 1390 § 1 (Exh. A), 2000)

9.70.050 Violations and enforcement.

The following provisions are intended to indicate the implementation of the public nuisance ordinance. The subsections provide for language with respect to violations, enforcement, and abatement, among other things.

(1) Violation – Permitting Unlawful.

(a) It is unlawful for any person, firm or corporation, by themselves or by their agents, employees or as the agent or employee of another person, firm or corporation, to do or permit to be done upon any premises over which they have control, or to maintain, carry on, suffer or allow, at any place or places in the preceding sections above, any of the acts or things declared in this chapter to be nuisances, or to do or cause or permit or suffer to be done, or maintain any act or thing which shall be detrimental or injurious to public health or offensive to the senses or contrary to public decency or morality.

(b) In case the owner or agent of any premises is found to have had actual or constructive knowledge of the maintenance on or in said premises of any nuisance as defined in this chapter, he shall for the purpose of this chapter, be deemed one of the persons in control of the premises.

(2) Enforcement – Civil Infraction.

(a) Any person who violates any of the provisions of this chapter shall be guilty of a civil infraction.

(b) The Washougal municipal court may impose costs in addition to the penalties set out below.

(c) Owners, agents, and/or tenants failing to comply will be subject to the penalties set forth in this chapter.

(i) Day one through 10 – clean up period (discretionary four-day extension);

(ii) Day 11 through 13 – fine $100.00 per day (maximum);

(iii) Day 14 through 17 – fine $200.00 per day (maximum);

(iv) Day 18 through 21 – fine $300.00 per day (maximum);

(v) Day 22 and up – fine $500.00 per day (maximum).

(3) Continued Duty to Correct Violation. Payment of a monetary penalty pursuant to this chapter does not relieve a person of the duty to correct the violation as ordered by the enforcement officer.

(4) Accrual of Penalty. The city is authorized to collect the monetary penalty by use of appropriate legal remedies. Seeking legal redress by the city shall neither stay nor terminate the accrual of additional per diem monetary penalties so long as the violation continues.

(5) Enforcement – Civil Abatement.

(a) In the event that any person violates any of the provisions of this chapter, within 24 months of a committed finding for the same prior offense, the city may proceed with enforcement pursuant to this section or, the city may file a complaint with the Washougal municipal court alleging the maintenance of a public nuisance and violation of this chapter. Upon filing of the complaint, the municipal court shall issue a show cause order directing the defendant to appear at a time and place certain and then show cause, if there be any, why an order should not be entered directing abatement of the public nuisance. A copy of the show cause order shall be served upon the defendant not less than five days prior to the show cause hearing.

(b) If the defendant fails to appear at the show cause hearing, or appears and fails to show cause why the public nuisance should not be ordered abated, the court shall enter an order directing the defendant to abate the public nuisance.

(c) If the court determines at the show cause hearing that a trial of the issues is necessary before an order of abatement should issue, the matter shall be set for a trial which shall be conducted in accordance with the civil procedure for justice courts.

(d) In all complaints to abate public nuisances, the city shall have the burden of proving by preponderance of the evidence that the defendant is maintaining a public nuisance contrary to the provisions of this chapter. If, following the trial, the court finds that the defendant is guilty of maintaining a public nuisance, then it shall enter an order directing the defendant to abate the nuisance. If the court finds that the city has failed to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant has maintained a public nuisance in violation of this chapter, then the complaint shall be dismissed without costs or attorneys’ fees to either party.

(6) Order of Abatement. When judgment shall be rendered against any person, persons, firm or corporation finding them guilty of creating, keeping, maintaining, permitting, allowing or suffering a public nuisance as defined in this chapter, the municipal court shall enter an order of abatement requiring such person to abate the public nuisance within a time certain. The order of abatement shall further require such person to reappear before the court after expiration of the time specified in the abatement order, and at that time provide evidence that the public nuisance has been abated as ordered by the court.

(7) Abatement by the City. In the event any person fails to comply with the order of abatement issued under the provisions of this chapter, then the city may abate such nuisance. The cost of abatement incurred by the city shall be assessed against the person failing to comply with the order of abatement, and shall be in addition to any other penalty or fine assessed for failure to comply with the order of abatement.

(8) Failure to Abate – Penalty. Any person who has been ordered to abate a public nuisance and fails to comply with such order within the time specified in such order shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction thereof shall be assessed a fine not exceeding $500.00 or a jail term not exceeding 90 days, or both such fine and jail term. It shall be a separate violation for each 24-hour period following the expiration date in the order of abatement during which such person fails to abate the public nuisance as ordered.

(9) Appeal. Any appeal to the decision of the Washougal municipal court shall be governed by the Rules for Appeal of Decisions of Courts of Limited Jurisdiction (RALJ). (Ord. 1390 § 1 (Exh. A), 2000)

9.70.060 Severability.

If any clause, part or section of this chapter shall be adjudged invalid, such judgment shall not affect nor invalidate the remainder of the chapter, but shall be confined in its operation to the clause, part or section directly involved in the controversy in which such judgment was rendered. If the operation of any clause, part or section of this chapter shall be held to impair the obligation of contract or to deny to any person any right or protection secured by the Constitution of the United States or by the constitution of the state, it is declared that, had the invalidity of such clause, part or section been considered at the time of the adoption of this chapter, the remainder of the chapter would nevertheless have been adopted without such and any and all such invalid clauses, parts or sections. (Ord. 1390 § 1 (Exh. A), 2000)