Chapter 12.60


12.60.010    Purpose.

12.60.020    Definitions.

12.60.030    Responsibilities of the public works department.

12.60.040    Appointment and responsibilities of the citizen address and road name appeals committee.

12.60.050    Requirement for road name.

12.60.060    Criteria for road name selection.

12.60.070    Name assignment procedure.

12.60.080    Road name signs.

12.60.090    Road sign specifications.

12.60.100    Address numbering system.

12.60.110    Correction of address number sequence.

12.60.120    Address number assignment.

12.60.130    Life, safety and property protection standards for address designation markers.

12.60.140    Road name changes and procedures.

12.60.150    Honorary road naming.

12.60.160    Master map.

12.60.170    Compliance requirements and penalties.

12.60.190    Severability.

12.60.010 Purpose.

The purpose of this chapter is to provide for a logical system of road naming and address numbering, which is consistent with the desires of Whatcom County residents, with the Whatcom County Comprehensive Plan, and with the practical needs of county residents, emergency service providers, and visitors. (Ord. 2017-017 Exh. A; Ord. 2016-017 Exh. A; Ord. 2014-045 Exh. A; Ord. 96-049).

12.60.020 Definitions.

A. “Address” means the appropriate combination of address number, directional prefix or suffix, road name, and road type, e.g., 100 East Bakerview Road.

B. “Address grid system” means an imaginary network of uniformly spaced horizontal and perpendicular lines used to establish regularly spaced intervals as the basis for assigning address numbers.

C. “Address marker” means a marker with numbers on two sides used to designate an address number along a road, or numbers affixed to a building.

D. “Address number” means the assigned property number which is written ahead of the road name, e.g., “525” Noon Road, and shall be numerical only.

E. “Alpha road name” means a word, usually a proper or common noun, or a combination of words used to identify a road, e.g., “Smith” Road, “Trout Lake” Road.

F. “Applicant” means the individual(s) or entity responsible for initiating the creation or expansion of a road, or requesting the change of the name of an existing road.

G. “Block number” means the 100 number interval based on the address grid system.

H. “Building address number including building designation” means the property number assigned to a building.

I. “Directional prefix” is the word such as “West” or “East” placed ahead of the name of a road.

J. “Directional suffix” is the word such as “West” or “East” placed after the road type, e.g., Willow Lane East.

K. “Driveway”: Primary function is to provide direct access to property.

L. “Joint driveway” means a driveway with primary function to provide direct access for up to four properties.

M. “Mobile home park” means any parcel of land or adjacent parcels of land in the same ownership which is utilized for occupancy by more than two mobile homes.

N. “Numeric road name” means an ordinal number used to identify a road, e.g., “2nd” Street, “31st” Avenue.

O. “Private road” means a road which is on private property and which is maintained with private funds.

P. “Recreational vehicle park” means a parcel of land in which three or more sites are primarily for occupancy by recreational vehicles for travel, recreation or vacation uses.

Q. “Right-of-way” means a legal right of passage over a piece of land, generally established by either dedication, ownership, or easement.

R. “Road” means a travel way intended for the use of motorized vehicles or other modes of transportation.

S. “Road name sign” means a sign designating the name of a travel way.

T. “Road name type” follows the road’s alpha road name and indicates the type of travel way, e.g., Britton “Road,” Sunset “Lane.” (Ord. 2017-017 Exh. A; Ord. 2016-017 Exh. A; Ord. 2014-045 Exh. A; Ord. 96-049).

12.60.030 Responsibilities of the public works department.

A. Whatcom County department of public works, hereinafter called the department, is directed to assign and/or change address numbers to buildings and unimproved property, to facilitate and record the naming of roads, and to assure placement of road name signs, according to the provisions of this chapter.

B. The department will recommend to the executive for approval by the county council rules and regulations regarding all address numbering and road naming policies.

C. The department and the applicant shall work cooperatively and in a timely manner to facilitate and expedite the procedures required by this chapter. (Ord. 2017-017 Exh. A; Ord. 2016-017 Exh. A; Ord. 2014-045 Exh. A; Ord. 96-049).

12.60.040 Appointment and responsibilities of the citizen address and road name appeals committee.

A. The county council may appoint a citizen address and road name appeals committee, hereinafter called the citizen appeals committee, of five members representing the diversity of Whatcom County residents. Committee members shall serve three-year overlapping terms and shall be eligible for reappointment.

B. The responsibilities of the citizen appeals committee shall be as follows:

1. Consider and decide appeals of address numbering, and road name assignments and corrections;

2. Review and decide appeals in enacting the policies and procedures of this chapter;

3. Develop a list of preapproved road names from which applicants may choose;

4. May propose changes or additions in the county’s address numbering, road naming, and sign policy.

C. Decisions by the citizen appeals committee may be appealed to the county council.

D. In the absence of a citizen address and road name appeals committee, appeals will be considered and decided directly by county council. (Ord. 2020-046 Exh. A; Ord. 2017-017 Exh. A; Ord. 2016-017 Exh. A; Ord. 2014-045 Exh. A; Ord. 96-049).

12.60.050 Requirement for road name.

A. Road names shall be required for all public roads and private roads now existing or hereafter created when such roads:

1. Are any length and serve five or more lots; or

2. Are 1,000 feet or greater in length and serve three or more lots.

B. Roads that are not required to be named per subsection A of this section may also be named at the unanimous request of all the property owners served by the road when said road serves three or four existing lots. (Ord. 2017-017 Exh. A; Ord. 2016-017 Exh. A; Ord. 2014-045 Exh. A; Ord. 96-049).

12.60.060 Criteria for road name selection.

A. Objectives. Names should be pleasant sounding, appropriate, and easy to read and pronounce (so that the public, and children in particular, can handle the name in an emergency situation) and shall meet What-Comm (9-1-1) computer programming requirements.

B. Recommended Types of Names. Names of local historic families, individuals, landmarks and events, features of the natural terrain, plants and animals, names of aesthetic or community significance.

C. Unacceptable Names. Numeric (e.g., 42nd, 56th, Fifty-Fifth, etc.) if they have already been used or if they do not conform to the address grid system; alphabetical letters (A, B, C, etc.); frivolous, complicated or unseemly names (e.g., My Road, Slick Road).

D. Avoidance of Name Duplication. Similar sounding names shall be considered duplication regardless of spelling. No duplication of names shall be permitted within Whatcom County. Road type shall not be used to distinguish road names within these areas, except in logically compelling instances where there is contiguity (e.g., Oak Circle at the end of Oak Street; but not Oak Lane at a location not contiguous with Oak Street). Directional indicators (e.g., North, South, Northeast) shall not be allowed as street names to distinguish noncontiguous roads (i.e., if there were an existing Wilson Road, “North Wilson Road” could not be considered a distinct, nonduplicative name).

E. Road Type Designations. Due to existing road names, “view,” “vista,” “trail,” and “plaza” shall not be permitted as a road name type. The designation “highway” shall be reserved for state and federal administered roads. The road name types “road” and “street” shall be reserved for Whatcom County public roads only.

F. Directional Prefixes. Roads running east-west which intersect (cross or abut) the Guide Meridian shall be prefixed “East” on the east side of the Guide and “West” on the west side of the Guide.

G. Directional Suffixes. Directional suffixes shall not be allowed in road names. (Ord. 2017-017 Exh. A; Ord. 2016-017 Exh. A; Ord. 2014-045 Exh. A; Ord. 96-049).

12.60.070 Name assignment procedure.

A. The applicant for a new road may propose three original names: a preferred name and two alternates. The department shall provide the road applicant with a copy of this chapter and a list of preapproved names from which a road name may be selected, if the applicant prefers not to propose an original name.

B. If preapproved name is not selected, the road name approval process shall consist of submission to the department for review including What-Comm 9-1-1 and the local fire district(s) according to the criteria set forth in WCC 12.60.060.

C. If an appeal is made, the citizen appeals committee shall evaluate the appeal with regard to compliance, review proposed road names for appropriateness, and make recommendations on new road names and road name changes.

D. When the recommendations of the department and the citizen appeals committee do not agree, or when the applicant contests the decisions of the department and the citizen appeals committee, the matter may be referred to the council for consideration. (Ord. 2017-017 Exh. A; Ord. 2016-017 Exh. A; Ord. 2014-045 Exh. A; Ord. 96-049).

12.60.080 Road name signs.

A. Signs on public county roads shall be placed and maintained by the county. When an applicant dedicates a road to the public, the applicant shall pay for the initial installation of the road name sign(s).

B. Signs on new private roads shall be installed and maintained by the applicant in accordance to Whatcom County development standards. On existing private roads, the responsibility for installation and maintenance of signs shall rest collectively with the owners of real property which abuts or may use the private road as access or as outlined in the plat covenants. (Ord. 2017-017 Exh. A; Ord. 2016-017 Exh. A; Ord. 2014-045 Exh. A; Ord. 96-049).

12.60.090 Road sign specifications.

A. For Arterial Roads. The color and letter size shall be consistent with current county road signs for all public county roads.

B. For Private Roads. Signs designating private roads shall be the same style as public road signs in accordance with Whatcom County development standards. (Ord. 2017-017 Exh. A; Ord. 2016-017 Exh. A; Ord. 2014-045 Exh. A; Ord. 96-049).

12.60.100 Address numbering system.

A. An address numbering system following a grid pattern of 400 three- or four-digit numbers per mile meets current and projected future needs in Whatcom County. This system provides for one address number every 26.4 feet on either side of the road.

B. Except for Point Roberts, the horizontal (east-west) base line is the Whatcom County and Skagit County border. Numbers zero to 99 are reserved for parcels in Skagit County that access and are addressed on Whatcom County roads. The base line is 100, and addresses increase to the north by 100 numbers per quarter-section line, 400 numbers per approximate mile.

C. Except for Point Roberts, the vertical (north-south) base line is the dividing line between range 2 east and range 3 east (Guide Meridian for most of the county). The base line is 100 and addresses increase going east and increase going west by 100 numbers per quarter-section line, 400 numbers per approximate mile.

D. For Point Roberts, the horizontal (east-west) base line is the theoretical western section line of 40N 3W 33. The base line is 1000 and addresses increase going east by 100 numbers per quarter-section line, 400 numbers per approximate mile. The vertical (north-south) base line is the Canadian border. The base line is zero, and numbers increase to the south by 100 numbers per quarter-section line, 400 numbers per approximate mile.

E. Addresses on the north side of an east-west running road will be even numbers; addresses on the south side of an east-west road will be odd numbers. Addresses on the east side of a north-south running road will be even numbers; addresses on the west side of a north-south road will be odd numbers. (Ord. 2017-017 Exh. A; Ord. 2016-017 Exh. A; Ord. 2014-045 Exh. A; Ord. 96-049).

12.60.110 Correction of address number sequence.

The department shall make corrections where necessary to accomplish full implementation of the address numbering system for all county addresses in accordance with the following timeline and criteria:

A. The department shall correct addresses beginning in 1997, and shall continue until the entire county has been reviewed and corrected.

B. Notices of address corrections shall be mailed to affected property owners and become effective six months after notification by the department. (Ord. 2017-017 Exh. A; Ord. 2016-017 Exh. A; Ord. 2014-045 Exh. A; Ord. 96-049).

12.60.120 Address number assignment.

A. The department shall assign address numbers to previously unaddressed lots prior to issuance of a building permit.

B. New address number assignments and address number corrections shall follow the address number system. New address numbers shall logically fit into the existing numbering system of the particular area. When incorrect address numbers are found during the permit process, corrections should be made to those addresses at that time.

C. One address per legal lot of record shall be assigned, and except when the lot of record hosts:

1. One or more individual multiple dwelling or multiple occupant buildings (e.g., apartment buildings, condominiums, duplexes, quadplexes, office buildings, strip malls), then each building shall have a separate address.

2. One or more permitted detached accessory dwelling units, then each unit shall have a separate address.

D. For nondwelling type detached accessory structures (e.g., shops, garages, barns), separate addresses shall not be assigned different from the primary lot of record address.

E. For multiple dwelling and multiple occupant buildings, alpha designator or suite number suffixes shall also be used in combination with the primary lot of record address.

F. For permitted attached accessory dwelling units, alpha designator suffix use is optional in combination with the primary lot of record address.

G. For mobile home and recreational vehicle parks, site numbers shall be assigned to the individual mobile home or recreational vehicle sites and not to the mobile homes or recreational vehicles themselves. One address number shall be assigned to the mobile home or recreational vehicle park as a whole. The address of any one unit in the mobile home or recreational vehicle park shall consist of the mobile home or recreational vehicle park address followed by the site number. (Ord. 2017-017 Exh. A; Ord. 2016-017 Exh. A; Ord. 2014-045 Exh. A; Ord. 96-049).

12.60.130 Life, safety and property protection standards for address designation markers.

A. The owner of real property on which any building is located which is habitable or tenantable for residential, commercial, business, storage, or other purposes shall be responsible for ensuring that the proper address numbers are placed in such a position as to be plainly visible and legible from the road fronting the property.

B. Address Designation Marker. Where the building is not visible from the road or the address is not legible from the road, or more than one building is on a site, one address designation marker per building or address shall be provided at the junction of the driveway and the named road, and another address designation marker should be provided at the intersection of the individual driveway and the joint driveway. The ultimate responsibility for health and safety issues on private property rests with the property owner.

1. Placement. Address designation markers shall be placed so that the numbers are not obstructed by grass or landscaping. Installation and maintenance are the responsibility of the property owner.

2. Installation. Installation and maintenance of temporary address designation markers during all permitted construction shall be the responsibility of the permit applicant in compliance with subsections B and C of this section.

3. Specifications. Address designation markers must be visible at night. The minimum standard shall be three-inch numbers arranged horizontally or vertically on a clearly contrasting background. Reflective numbers and reflective backgrounds are recommended. Blue and white are the recommended colors to be used on address designation markers.

C. The property owner(s) of mobile home and recreational vehicle parks are responsible for ensuring that each space is marked with the individual site number. The site number shall be easily visible and legible and affixed to some permanent structure located on the space. In mobile home and recreational vehicle parks with multiple access lanes, the access lanes shall be marked with the range of site numbers served.

D. Map Signs. In complexes where multiple buildings exist, map signs are recommended to be posted at the main entrance of the complex. (Ord. 2017-017 Exh. A; Ord. 2016-017 Exh. A; Ord. 2014-045 Exh. A; Ord. 96-049).

12.60.140 Road name changes and procedures.

Some road names warrant being changed in order to reduce confusion arising from duplicate names or by different names on segments of the same travel way (which may or may not change direction). In addition, a request may be made to change an existing road name. Whenever possible, road name changes shall be made concurrently with correction of address number sequencing (refer to WCC 12.60.110). The road(s) shall be renamed by the following procedure:

A. For department-initiated road name changes, the department shall notify all property owners with addresses that use the current road name (affected property owners) that their road(s) requires a name change. Within this notification, the (affected) property owner shall be informed of the opportunity they have to participate in the selection of the new road name, and the department shall also outline the following:

First Notification:

1. The reason for the road name change (duplication, merging roads, etc.);

2. The two (or more) existing affected road names;

3. The department may recommend road name(s) or changes based on the following criteria:

a. WCC 12.60.060, Criteria for road name selection,

b. WCC 12.60.070, Name assignment procedure,

c. Historical records (deeds, plats, etc.),

d. Date on which road(s) were named,

e. Number of affected residents and/or property owners of record located on each road,

f. Extenuating circumstances known by the department,

g. Preapproved road name list;

4. The date at which a response is due back to the department, any additional circumstances to be considered, and the road name proposals (a three-week period).

Second Notification:

1. A brief summary of prior notice;

2. A list of all proposed road names submitted by residents;

3. A date in which the residents need to submit their top two choices (a two-week period).

Third Notification:

1. Tallied results from responses for new road name. The department will strive to obtain consensus;

2. An outline of the appeal process with the deadline to submit an appeals request (three weeks from date of third notice);

3. The department will make the official road name announcement;

4. The date when the new road name may become effective (additional three-week period).

B. For non-department-initiated road name changes, the applicant shall submit a road name change application form (which the department shall create and maintain consistent with this chapter) to the department, together with the fees per the Whatcom County Unified Fee Schedule.

1. Each road name change application shall include the following:

a. A vicinity map showing the existing road.

b. The current name of the road.

c. The proposed name of the road.

d. The reason for the road name change.

e. List of names, mailing addresses, and parcel numbers of all property owners with addresses that use the current road name (affected property owners).

f. Typed, self-adhering (self-stick) mailing labels containing the names and addresses of all affected property owners.

g. A notarized affidavit certifying that the above statements and the information contained in any papers or plans submitted are true and accurate to the best of the applicant’s knowledge, and that the list of affected property owners is complete and current.

2. The department will send a notice of the requested road name change to the affected property owners, What-Comm 9-1-1, and the local fire district(s), asking for comments on the requested road name change.

3. The notice will provide a 30-day comment period.

4. The department shall provide a staff report to the Whatcom County council including, but not limited to, the following information:

a. The comments received on the requested application.

b. An analysis on the name change meeting the criteria of WCC 12.60.060.

c. Cost of changing the road signs.

5. The Whatcom County council will hold a public hearing and make a decision on the request.

6. If the Whatcom County council approves the request, the ordinance changing the road name will include the requirement for the applicant to reimburse the department for the actual cost of the road sign changes. (Ord. 2017-017 Exh. A; Ord. 2016-017 Exh. A; Ord. 2014-045 Exh. A; Ord. 96-049).

12.60.150 Honorary road naming.

A. An honorary road name is a subsidiary designation for a road or a portion of a road that does not replace the legal name of the road. The honorary road name shall be denoted by signs that augment but do not replace signs for the legal road name required for emergency service access. If a road or a portion of a road, except intersecting roads, has been designated with an honorary road name, no other honorary name shall be given to the road or section of a road. Honorary signs shall meet the standard road sign criteria for size and shape with a brown background and white lettering, and shall be placed underneath signs designating the legal road name.

B. The council shall designate an honorary name for a road or portion of a road by the adoption of an ordinance. Honorary road names shall be limited to recognition of individuals, organizations, entities and events of local significance to the county as determined by the county council. The actual costs of manufacturing, designing and installing or replacing signs due to damage, theft or vandalism shall be paid to the public works department by the applicant requesting the honorary designation before the signs are manufactured and installed.

C. An application to the council for honorary road renaming shall contain a list of all persons having ownership in properties addressed on the road to be given the honorary name and the signatures of the majority of those persons indicating acquiescence in the honorary road name. The application shall include a statement recognizing that costs defined in subsection B of this section shall be borne by the applicant and noting that the legal name of the road will not change.

D. The council shall mail notice of a proposed honorary name to all property owners on the affected road at least 20 days before council action. (Ord. 2017-017 Exh. A; Ord. 2016-017 Exh. A).

12.60.160 Master map.

The department shall develop a master map of all public and private roads in Whatcom County in conjunction with WCC 12.60.110 and shall maintain and keep current thereafter. (Ord. 2017-017 Exh. A; Ord. 2016-017 Exh. A; Ord. 2014-045 Exh. A; Ord. 96-049. Formerly 12.60.150).

12.60.170 Compliance requirements and penalties.

A. All address assignments or changes duly required by the department shall be recorded on title transfers.

B. Any person, firm, or corporation violating any of the provisions of this chapter, or of the codes adopted by reference by this chapter, shall be deemed guilty of a civil offense and shall be given 30 days to correct the situation and shall be fined not more than $250.00 for each offense. (Ord. 2017-017 Exh. A; Ord. 2016-017 Exh. A; Ord. 2014-045 Exh. A; Ord. 96-049. Formerly 12.60.160).

12.60.190 Severability.

If any portion of this chapter is deemed to be invalid or inoperative, all remaining sections shall continue in effect. (Ord. 2017-017 Exh. A; Ord. 2016-017 Exh. A; Ord. 2014-045 Exh. A; Ord. 96-049).