Chapter 18.51


18.51.010    Scope.

18.51.020    Intent.

18.51.030    Severability.

18.51.040    Definitions.

18.51.050    Property maintenance standards.

18.51.060    Unlawful acts.

18.51.070    Enforcement.

18.51.010 Scope.

The provisions of this chapter shall apply to all existing residential and nonresidential structures and all existing premises and constitute minimum requirements and standards for premises and structures for sanitation, protection from the elements, life safety, and for safe and sanitary maintenance. (Ord. 1622 § 1, 2009)

18.51.020 Intent.

This chapter shall be construed to secure its expressed intent, which is to ensure public health, safety, and welfare in so far as they are affected by the continued maintenance of structures and premises. Existing structures and premises that do not comply with these provisions shall be altered or repaired to provide a minimum level of health and safety as required within. (Ord. 1622 § 1, 2009)

18.51.030 Severability.

If a section, subsection, sentence, clause or phrase of this chapter is, for any reason, determined to be unconstitutional, such decision shall not affect the validity of the remaining portions of this chapter. (Ord. 1622 § 1, 2009)

18.51.040 Definitions.

For the purpose of this chapter, certain terms are defined in this section. When not inconsistent with the context, words used in the present tense include the future, words used in the singular number include the plural, and words in the plural number include the singular: the word “persons” may be taken for a person, firm, partnership or corporation. Other words and terms shall have their customary dictionary definitions.

“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.

“Blight” means to cause to deteriorate, a condition resulting in withering, crumbling, decay or to descend to a less than 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.

“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.

“Dump” means to throw out, dump or discard 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.

“Exterior property” means the open space on the premises and on adjoining property under the control of owners or operators of such premises.

“Extermination” means the control and elimination of insects, rats or other pests by eliminating their harborage places; by removing or making inaccessible materials that serve as their food; by poison spraying, fumigating, trapping or by any other approved pest elimination methods.

“Fences,” “walls,” and “hedges” mean a self-standing 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.

“Garbage” means the animal or vegetable waste resulting from the handling, preparation, cooking and consumption of food.

“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.

“Infestation” means the presence, within or contiguous to, a structure or premises of insects, rats, vermin or other pests.

“Inoperable motor vehicle” means a vehicle which cannot be driven upon the public streets for reason including but not limited to being unlicensed, wrecked, abandoned or in a state of disrepair.

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

(a) Is three years old or older;

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

(i) A shattered or missing window or windshield;

(ii) Missing wheels or tires;

(iii) Missing motor or transmission;

(c) Is apparently inoperable;

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

“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 public highway and in, upon, or by which any persons or property is or may be transported or drawn upon a public highway.

“Obstructions” means tables, chairs, signs, sandwich boards, barricades, sand, dirt, gravel, bark dust, brick or concrete block, cut brush, trash bags or garbage cans left more than 24 hours, basketball hoops, lumber and other construction supplies, or any material or thing placed in the public way from the ground to the sky 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 any person, persons, agent, firm or corporation having a legal or equitable interest in the property, 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, including the executor or administrator of the estate of such person if ordered to take possession of real property by a court.

“Person” means an individual, corporation, partnership, or any other group acting as a unit.

“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.

“Public way” means any street, alley or similar parcel of land which is deeded, dedicated or otherwise permanently conveyed to the public for public use.

“Razor wire” means a single strand of flattened wire which has been shaped, sharpened and barbed.

“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.

“Rubbish” means combustible and noncombustible waste materials, except garbage; the term shall include the residue from the burning of wood, coal, coke and other combustible materials, paper, rags, cartons, boxes, wood, excelsior, rubber, leather, tree branches, yard trimmings, tin cans, metals, mineral matter, glass, crockery and dust and other similar materials.

“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.

“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, rodents or other harmful pest infestations or may become a fire hazard.

“Weeds” and “trees” means all noxious weeds and other rank growths upon public or private property to include, but not be limited to, non-native 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. 1622 § 1, 2009)

18.51.050 Property maintenance standards.

The following standards shall be met to protect the public health, safety and welfare:

(1) Accessory Buildings, Fences, Walls, and Hedges. All accessory buildings, including sheds, outbuildings, detached garages, fences, walls, and retaining walls on the premises shall be safe and structurally sound. Fences, walls and accessory structures 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.

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

(a) Property used for agricultural purposes where barbed wire fences are used to contain livestock.

(b) Barbed wire top strands six feet above the ground may be permitted in commercial, industrial, and institutional and public districts.

(c) Razor wire shall be prohibited in all zone districts with the exception of heavy industrial.

(3) Building and Structure. A building or structure is a public nuisance when it becomes deteriorated, damaged, in need of repair, left vacant and 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 manmade 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 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.

(4) Child Traps. 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 and unsecured or abandoned building, dwelling, other structure, or in a place accessible to children is a public nuisance.

(5) Grading and Drainage. No premises shall be left without maintenance to cause, or fail to maintain and cause, the erosion of soil, change or redirect drainage across property lines, the accumulation of stagnant water thereon, or within any structure located thereon.

(6) 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.

(7) Insect and Rodent Harborage. All structures and exterior property shall be kept free from rodent harborage and infestation. All structures shall be kept free of insect infestation. Where insects or rodents are found, they shall be promptly exterminated by approved processes which will not be injurious to human health. After extermination, proper precautions shall be taken to eliminate rodent harborage and prevent reinfestation.

(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 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. Private swimming pools, hot tubs and spas, containing water more than 24 inches (610 mm) in depth shall be completely surrounded by a fence or barrier at least 48 inches (1,219 mm) in height above the finished ground level measured on the side of the barrier away from the pool. Gates and doors in such barriers shall be self-closing and self-latching. Where the self-latching device is less than 54 inches (1,372 mm) above the bottom of the gate, the release mechanism shall be located on the pool side of the gate. Self-closing and self-latching gates shall be maintained such that the gate will positively close and latch when released from an open position of six inches (152 mm) from the gatepost. No existing pool enclosure shall be removed, replaced or changed in a manner that reduces its effectiveness as a safety barrier. Spas or hot tubs with a safety cover that complies with ASTM F 1346 shall be exempt from the provisions of this section.

(10) Obstructions within the public way are declared to be a public nuisance (also see Chapter 12.20 WMC, Sidewalk Construction, Reconstruction and Repair).

(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) Premises Identification. Buildings shall have approved address numbers placed in a position to be plainly legible and visible from the street or road fronting the property. These numbers shall contrast with their background.

(13) Sidewalks and Driveways. All sidewalks, walkways, stairs, driveways, parking spaces and similar areas shall be kept in a proper state of repair, and maintained free from hazardous conditions.

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

(15) 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.

(16) 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.

(17) Vegetation, Trees and Weeds. All premises and exterior property shall be maintained free from weeds or uncontrolled, uncultivated plant growth. All noxious weeds recognized by the Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board are prohibited. See Chapter 7.08 WMC.

(18) 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 on an improved surface such as concrete, asphalt, or gravel, in a designated driveway, parking space, carport or garage.

(b) All vehicles must be currently registered. Inoperable motor vehicles must be under repair and the total period during which the vehicle is inoperable shall not exceed 10 business days.

(c) Vehicle parts and vehicle accessories, such as tires, 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 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 (18)(a) of this section) or side yards with a flanking street.

(e) No vehicle shall at any time be in a state of major disassembly, disrepair, or in the process of being stripped and dismantled unless inside of a structure, or similarly enclosed area designed and approved for such purposes. Spray painting of vehicles is prohibited unless conducted inside of an approved spray booth. (Ord. 1622 § 1, 2009)

18.51.060 Unlawful acts.

It shall be unlawful for a person, firm, or corporation to be in conflict with or in violation of any of the provisions of this chapter. (Ord. 1622 § 1, 2009)

18.51.070 Enforcement.

Property maintenance standards shall be enforced by the community development director or an authorized representative in accordance with Chapter 18.96 WMC, Enforcement. (Ord. 1622 § 1, 2009)