Chapter 1.09
UNFIT STRUCTURES

Sections:

1.09.010    Intent.

1.09.015    Definitions.

1.09.020    Delegation of authority.

1.09.030    Service.

1.09.040    Alternative service.

1.09.050    Complaint and hearing.

1.09.055    Recording.

1.09.060    Unfit determination.

1.09.065    Minimum standards.

1.09.070    Repealed.

1.09.080    Order.

1.09.085    Time to comply.

1.09.090    Appeal to Hearing Examiner.

1.09.100    Failure to comply.

1.09.110    Costs assessed against property.

1.09.120    Injunction.

1.09.130    Alternative enforcement.

1.09.140    Alternative abatement.

1.09.010 Intent.

It is hereby found that there sometimes exist, within the City of Woodinville, buildings, structures, and premises which are unfit for human habitation, or portions thereof which are unfit for other uses due to dilapidation, disrepair, structural defects, defects increasing the hazards of fire, accidents, or other calamities, inadequate ventilation and uncleanliness, inadequate light or sanitary facilities, inadequate drainage, overcrowding, or due to other conditions which are inimical to the health and welfare of the residents of such municipalities and counties. It is the intent of this chapter to address such problems. (Ord. 686 § 3, 2019; Ord. 350 § 6, 2003)

1.09.015 Definitions.

The following definitions apply to this chapter:

(1) “City” means City of Woodinville.

(2) “City Manager” means the person appointed pursuant to WMC 2.09.010.

(3) “Code” shall mean the Woodinville Municipal Code.

(4) “Code Enforcement Officer” means a person authorized to enforce the provisions of this title.

(5) “Costs” means, but is not limited to, contract expense and City employee labor expense incurred in abating a nuisance, a rental fee for City equipment used in abatement, costs of storage, disposal or destruction, legal expenses and attorneys’ fees associated with civil judicial enforcement of abatement orders or in seeking abatement orders, and any other costs incurred by the City excluding, however, fees and expenses associated with appeals authorized by this chapter or by State law.

(6) “Dangerous machine” shall mean any machine that has the potential to cause serious bodily harm to any person.

(7) “Director” means the person or persons designated by the City Manager to administer this chapter.

(8) “Discarded” shall mean cast off, thrown away or abandoned.

(9) “Household equipment” shall mean any apparatus, tool or similar item that is intended for a use in a dwelling, including but not limited to cooking utensils, appliances, and furniture.

(10) “Neglected equipment” shall mean any machinery, tool or similar item that is left in a state of disrepair.

(11) “Person” shall mean any natural person, any corporation, any unincorporated association or partnership, or any other business entity. (Ord. 686 § 4, 2019)

1.09.020 Delegation of authority.

The Code Enforcement Officer is hereby designated and appointed to exercise the powers specified in this chapter. The City Council hereby authorizes the Code Enforcement Officer to exercise such powers as may be necessary or convenient to carry out and effectuate the purposes and provisions of this chapter. These powers shall include the following in addition to others herein granted:

(1)(a) To determine which dwellings within the City are unfit for human habitation;

(b) To determine which buildings, structures, or premises are unfit for other use;

(2) To administer oaths and affirmations, examine witnesses and receive evidence; and

(3) To investigate the dwelling and other property conditions in the City and to enter upon premises, with the consent of the occupant, for the purpose of making examinations when the Code Enforcement Officer has reasonable grounds for believing they are unfit for human habitation, or for other use, or for believing that conditions on property constitute a nuisance; provided, that such entries shall be made in such manner as to cause the least possible inconvenience to the occupant; and provided further, that in the event entry is denied or resisted, an order for this purpose be obtained after submitting evidence in support of an application which is adequate to justify such an order from a court of competent jurisdiction. (Ord. 686 § 5, 2019; Ord. 350 § 6, 2003)

1.09.030 Service.

If, after a preliminary investigation of any dwelling, building, structure, or premises, the Code Enforcement Officer finds that it is unfit for human habitation or other use, or that conditions thereon constitute a nuisance, he shall cause to be served either personally or by certified mail, with return receipt requested, upon all persons having any interest therein, as shown upon the records of the Auditor’s office of the County in which such property is located, and shall post in a conspicuous place on such property, a complaint stating in what respects such dwelling, building, structure, or premises is unfit for human habitation or other use, or in what respect the conditions thereon constitute a nuisance. (Ord. 350 § 6, 2003)

1.09.040 Alternative service.

If the whereabouts of any of such persons is unknown and the same cannot be ascertained by the Code Enforcement Officer in the exercise of reasonable diligence, and the Code Enforcement Officer makes an affidavit to that effect, then the serving of such complaint or order upon such persons may be made by mailing a copy of the complaint and order by certified mail, postage prepaid, return receipt requested, to each such person at the address of the building involved in the proceedings, and by mailing a copy of the complaint and order by first class mail to any address of each such person in the records of the County Assessor or the County Auditor for the County where the property is located and by posting such complaint and order in a conspicuous place on such property. (Ord. 350 § 6, 2003)

1.09.050 Complaint and hearing.

Such complaint shall contain a notice that a hearing will be held before the Code Enforcement Officer, at a place therein fixed, not less than 10 days nor more than 30 days after the serving of said complaint; and that all parties in interest shall be given the right to file an answer to the complaint, to appear in person, or otherwise, and to give testimony at the time and place in the complaint. The rules of evidence prevailing in courts of law or equity shall not be controlling in hearings before the Code Enforcement Officer. (Ord. 350 § 6, 2003)

1.09.055 Recording.

A copy of such complaint shall also be filed with the Auditor of the County in which the dwelling, building, structure, premises or property is located, and such filing of the complaint or order shall have the same force and effect as other lis pendens notices provided by law. (Ord. 350 § 6, 2003)

1.09.060 Unfit determination.

The Code Enforcement Officer may determine that a dwelling, building, structure, or premises is unfit for human habitation or other use if it finds that conditions exist in such dwelling, building, structure, or premises which are dangerous or injurious to the health or safety of the occupants of such dwelling, building, structure, or premises, the occupants of neighboring dwellings, or other residents of the City. Such conditions may include the following, without limitation: defects therein increasing the hazards of fire or accident; inadequate ventilation, light, or sanitary facilities, dilapidation, disrepair, structural defects, uncleanliness, overcrowding, or inadequate drainage. (Ord. 350 § 6, 2003)

1.09.065 Minimum standards.

(1) The 2003 International Property Maintenance Code is hereby declared to be the reasonable and minimum standards with respect to the conditions listed in WMC 1.09.060. The Code Enforcement Officer shall refer to these standards in determining the fitness of a dwelling for human habitation, or building, structure, or premises for other use.

(2) The determination of whether a dwelling, building, structure, or premises should be repaired or demolished shall be based on the specific standards above on the degree of structural deterioration of the dwelling, building, structure, or premises or upon the extent to which the dwelling, building, structure, or premises violates the above standards. (Ord. 350 § 6, 2003)

1.09.070 Nuisance determination.

Repealed by Ord. 686. (Ord. 350 § 6, 2003)

1.09.080 Order.

If, after the required hearing, the Code Enforcement Officer determines that the dwelling is unfit for human habitation, that the building, structure or premises is unfit for other use, or that the conditions on the property constitute a nuisance, he shall state in writing his findings of fact in support of such determination, and shall issue and cause to be served upon the owner or occupant thereof, as is provided above, and shall post in a conspicuous place on said property, an order which:

(1) Requires the owner or occupant, within the time specified in the order, to repair, alter, or improve such dwelling, building, structure, or premises to render it fit for human habitation, or for other use, or to vacate and close the dwelling, building, structure, or premises, if such course of action is deemed proper on the basis of the standards set forth above; or

(2) Requires the owner or occupant, within the time specified in the order, to remove or demolish such dwelling, building, structure, or premises, if this course of action is deemed proper on the basis of said standards; or

(3) Otherwise requires the owner or occupant, within the time specified in the order, to abate the nuisance. If no appeal is filed, a copy of such order shall be filed with the Auditor of the County in which the dwelling, building, structure, or premises is located. (Ord. 350 § 6, 2003)

1.09.085 Time to comply.

(1) Determination of Time. When calculating a reasonable time for abating a nuisance, the Director shall consider the following criteria:

(a) The type and degree of violation cited in the notice as it relates to public health, safety and welfare;

(b) The stated intent, if any, of a responsible party to take steps to abate the nuisance;

(c) The procedural requirements for obtaining a permit to carry out corrective action;

(d) The complexity of the corrective action, including seasonal considerations, construction requirements and the legal prerogatives of landlords and tenants; and

(e) Any other circumstances beyond the control of the responsible party. (Ord. 350 § 6, 2003)

1.09.090 Appeal to Hearing Examiner.

(1) The owner or any occupant, within 30 days from the date of service and posting of an order issued by the Code Enforcement Officer under the provisions of this chapter, may file an appeal with the Hearing Examiner.

(2) The City Council hereby designates and establishes the Hearing Examiner to serve as the administrative appeals body for the purposes of this chapter. The City Council also hereby establishes the following rules of procedure to assure a prompt and thorough review of matters submitted to the Hearing Examiner:

(a) All matters submitted to the Hearing Examiner must be resolved by the Hearing Examiner within 60 days from the date of filing therewith; and

(b) A transcript of the findings of fact of the Hearing Examiner shall be made available to the owner or other occupant upon demand.

(3) The findings and orders of the Hearing Examiner shall be the final administrative ruling, shall be reported in the same manner and shall bear the same legal consequences as if issued by the Code Enforcement Officer, and shall be subject to review only before a court of competent jurisdiction. (Ord. 350 § 6, 2003)

1.09.100 Failure to comply.

If the owner or occupant, following exhaustion of his rights to appeal, fails to comply with the final order to repair, alter, improve, vacate, close, remove, or demolish the dwelling, building, structure, or premises, or to otherwise abate the nuisance, the Code Enforcement Officer may direct or cause such dwelling, building, structure, or premises to be repaired, altered, improved, vacated, and closed, removed, or demolished, or may direct or cause the nuisance to be abated. (Ord. 350 § 6, 2003)

1.09.110 Costs assessed against property.

(1) The amount of the cost of such repairs, alterations or improvements; or vacating and closing; or removal, demolition or abatement under the direction of the Code Enforcement Officer shall be assessed against the real property upon which such cost was incurred unless such amount is previously paid.

(2) The Finance Director shall certify the amount of any assessment to the County Treasurer who then, pursuant to RCW 35.80.030 and/or pursuant to RCW 35.23.440(10), enters the amount of such assessment upon the tax rolls against the property for the current year and the same shall become a part of the general taxes for that year to be collected at the same time and with interest at such rates and in such manner as provided for in RCW 84.56.020, as now or hereafter amended, for delinquent taxes. When collected, such assessment is to be deposited in the City’s general fund.

(3) If the dwelling, building, structure, or premises is removed or demolished under the direction of the Code Enforcement Officer, the Code Enforcement Officer shall, if possible, sell the materials of such dwelling, building, structure, or premises in accordance with procedures set forth below, and shall credit the proceeds of such sale against the cost of the removal, demolition, or abatement and if there be any balance remaining, it shall be paid to the parties entitled thereto, as determined by the City Attorney, after deducting the costs incident thereto. (Ord. 350 § 6, 2003)

1.09.120 Injunction.

(1) Any person affected by an order issued by the Hearing Examiner pursuant to the provisions of this chapter, within 30 days after the posting and service of the order, may petition to the superior court for an injunction restraining the Code Enforcement Officer from carrying out the provisions of the order.

(2) In the event that the Hearing Examiner overturns the Code Enforcement Officer’s determination on appeal, the City Attorney may, pursuant to permission from the City Council, bring an action in superior court to overturn the Hearing Examiner’s decision, to obtain an injunction requiring abatement of the unfit structure or other nuisance and/or to seek any other appropriate legal or equitable relief available. (Ord. 350 § 6, 2003)

1.09.130 Alternative enforcement.

Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to abrogate or impair the powers of any department of the City to enforce any provisions of its ordinances or regulations, nor to prevent or punish violations thereof; and the powers conferred by this chapter shall be in addition and supplemental to the powers conferred by any other law. (Ord. 350 § 6, 2003)

1.09.140 Alternative abatement.

(1) Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to impair or limit in any way the power of the City to cause nuisances to be removed or abated by summary proceedings in the case of emergency or through any other lawful means.

(2) One alternative procedure that is hereby specifically reserved is that procedure referred to in RCW 7.48.260 whereby the City would seek a warrant of abatement from superior court along with an order awarding all costs and expenses to the City over and above any fine imposed by the court. (Ord. 350 § 6, 2003)