Chapter 2.23
HEARING EXAMINER

Sections:

2.23.010    Office Established.

2.23.020    Appointment and Terms.

2.23.030    Qualifications.

2.23.040    Removal.

2.23.050    Standards of Conduct.

2.23.060    Rules.

2.23.070    Time Computation.

2.23.080    Duties and Powers.

2.23.090    Applications.

2.23.100    Master Applications.

2.23.110    Report of Department.

2.23.120    Examiner’s decision.

2.23.130    Notice of Examiner’s Decision.

2.23.140    Appeal From Examiner’s Decision.

2.23.150    Effect of Appeal.

2.23.160    Board Action on Appeals.

2.23.170    Appeal of Decisions Made by Board.

2.23.180    Annual Report.

2.23.010 Office Established.

There is established an office of hearing examiner. The office of the examiner shall be under the administrative supervision of the examiner and shall be separate from and not an administrative part of the planning department. Unless the context requires otherwise, the term examiner as used in this chapter shall include deputy examiners and examiners pro-tem.

(Ord. 8-1985 §1(part), 1986).

2.23.020 Appointment and Terms.

The board of county commissioners shall appoint the examiner and any deputy examiners after consideration of the recommendation of the joint hearings examiner committee created by and pursuant to the Intergovernmental Agreement for the Mutual Use of Hearing Examiner Services entered into by and between the city of Yakima and Yakima County, Washington, for terms which shall be reviewed one year following the date of original appointment and thereafter be reviewed four years following the date of each reappointment. The board may also appoint examiners pro-tem to serve in the event of absence or inability to act of the examiner and deputy examiners.

(Ord. 8-1985 §1 (part), 1986).

2.23.030 Qualifications.

Examiners shall be appointed solely with regard to their qualifications for the duties of their office and will have such training and experience as will qualify them to conduct administrative or quasi-judicial hearings on regulatory enactments and to discharge the other functions conferred upon them. Examiners shall hold no other elective or appointive office or position with the city of Yakima or the county of Yakima.

(Ord. 8-1985 §1(part), 1986).

2.23.040 Removal.

An examiner may be removed from office for cause by majority vote of the board after consideration of a recommendation as to removal or nonremoval from the joint hearings examiner committee.

(Ord. 8-1985 §1(part), 1986).

2.23.050 Standards of Conduct.

(1)    No person, including city or county officials, elective or appointive, shall attempt to influence an examiner in any matter pending before him, except at a public hearing duly called for such purpose, or to interfere with an examiner in the performance of his duties in any other way; provided, that an official or employee of the city of Yakima or Yakima County may, in the performance of his official duties provide information to the examiner when the action is disclosed at the hearing or meeting nor shall this section prohibit rendering of legal services to the examiner or to the board.

(2)    No examiner shall conduct or participate in any hearing or decision in which the examiner shall have a direct or indirect financial or personal interest or in which such conduct or participation shall violate any rule of law applicable thereto.

(Ord. 8-1985 §1(part), 1986).

2.23.060 Rules.

The examiner shall implement procedural rules for the conduct of hearings and other procedural matters related to the duties of his office in accordance with RCW 36.70.970.

(Ord. 8-1985 §1(part), 1986).

2.23.070 Time Computation.

In computing any period of time prescribed by this chapter, the day of the act from which the designated period of time begins to run shall not be included. The last day of the period so computed shall be included, unless it is a Saturday, Sunday or a county legal holiday, in which event the period runs until the end of the next day which is neither a Saturday, Sunday or county legal holiday.

(Ord. 8-1985 §1(part), 1986).

2.23.080 Duties and Powers.

The examiner shall hear, make a record of, and decide matters provided in this chapter or by other ordinances including but not limited to the following land use and adult entertainment facility licensing matters:

(1)    Matters prescribed by Title 19 of this code. Decisions of the examiner on such matters shall have the legal effect as set forth in the provisions of Title 19 of this code.

(2)    Review of preliminary plats and modifications thereto within the county using the procedures and provisions for review by the planning commission as set forth in RCW Chapter 58.17. The decisions of the hearing examiner on such matters shall constitute recommendations to the board of county commissioners.

(3)    Plat vacations or amendments pursuant to RCW Chapter 58.17. Decisions of the examiner on such matter shall constitute final decisions unless appealed to the board under the provisions of this chapter.

(4)    The examiner shall conduct hearings pursuant to RCW Chapter 43.21C State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) in Title 16 of this code.

(5)    The matters prescribed by the Yakima County Critical Areas Ordinance – Title 16C Yakima County Code, except Chapter 16C.05.

(6)    The matters prescribed by the Project Permit Administration Ordinance – Title 16B Yakima County Code.

(7)    The matters prescribed by the Yakima County Regional Shoreline Master Program – Title 16D Yakima County Code, except Chapter 16D.05.

(8)    Adult entertainment licensing appeals as set forth in the provisions of Chapter 5.06 of this code.

The provisions of this section designating and assigning the hearing examiner the duties and functions listed in this chapter shall supersede any and all conflicting provisions of this code.

(Ord. 10-2019 (Exh. 1) (part), 2019: Res. 80-2016 (Exh. A) (part), 2016; Ord. 8A-2010 § 1, 2011: Ord. 8-96 § 1, 1996: Ord. 8-1985 §1(part), 1986).

2.23.090 Applications.

Applications for permits or approvals subject to review by the examiner shall be made to the county planning department (hereinafter referred to as the “department”). The department shall accept such applications only if applicable filing requirements are met. The department, in coordination with the hearing examiner, shall be responsible for assigning a date for and assuring due notice of public hearing for each application, which date and notice shall be in accordance with the statute or ordinance governing the application.

(Ord. 8-1985 §1(part), 1986).

2.23.100 Master Applications.

Any persons proposing a development or project which requires more than one of the permits or approvals listed in Section 2.23.080 of this chapter may submit a master application to the department on forms furnished by the department containing all necessary information. The master application shall thereafter be processed by the examiner subject to the longest time limitations applicable to any of the required permits for approval. If any of the required approvals constitute a recommendation to the legislative body, the decision of the examiner as to all such permits or approvals shall constitute a recommendation to the legislative body, otherwise the decision of the examiner shall be final subject to an appeal to the legislative body pursuant to this chapter.

(Ord. 8-1985 §1(part), 1986).

2.23.110 Report of Department.

Where no specific provision for a report of the department is contained in the statute or ordinance governing the application, the department may coordinate and assemble the reviews of other county/city departments, other state or local governmental agencies and franchised public utilities having an interest in the subject application and prepare a report summarizing the factors involved and the department’s findings and recommendations. At least seven calendar days prior to the scheduled hearing the report shall be filed with the examiner and copies thereof shall be mailed to the applicant and made available for public inspection. Copies thereof shall be provided to interested parties upon request.

(Ord. 8-1985 §1(part), 1986).

2.23.120 Examiner’s Decision.

Within ten working days of the conclusion of a hearing, unless a longer period is agreed to in writing by the applicant, the examiner shall render a written decision which shall include findings and conclusions based on the record. Except as provided in Sections 2.23.080 and 2.23.100 of this chapter, the decision of the examiner shall be final and conclusive on the fifteenth day after the date of the decision unless a notice of appeal to the board of county commissioners is filed pursuant to Section 2.23.140 of this chapter. The examiner’s decision together with his findings, conclusions, and record of proceedings shall be filed with the department. If the effect of the decision is a recommendation to the legislative body, the original thereof shall be transmitted to the legislative body.

(Ord. 8-1985 §1(part), 1986).

2.23.130 Notice of Examiner’s Decision.

Unless different procedures are prescribed by the ordinance or statute governing the application, the department shall mail copies of the examiner’s decision by certified mail to the applicant and by regular mail to other parties of record not later than three working days following the filing of a written decision by the examiner.

For purposes of this chapter “parties of record” means the applicant and all other persons who have either submitted written comment on any action or proposed action, or who have appeared at a public hearing or public meeting and specifically requested notice of the decision by signing a register provided for such purpose at the hearing or meeting.

(Ord. 8-1985 §1(part), 1986).

2.23.140 Appeal from Examiner’s Decision.

Except as to those decisions which constitute recommendations to the board as provided in Sections 2.23.080 and 2.23.100 of this chapter, and except for decisions on adult entertainment licensing appeals as set forth in the provisions of Chapter 5.06 of this code, and except for appeals processed under Title 19 of this code, a final decision by the examiner may be appealed to the board by any aggrieved person, or by any officer, department, board or bureau of the county affected by the examiner’s decision, in the following manner:

(1)    The appealing party must file a complete written notice of appeal with the department upon forms prescribed by the department and accompanied by the appeal fee within fourteen days from the date of the examiner’s final decision.

(2)    Unless the statute or ordinance governing the application specifically states a different fee for an appeal to the board, the appeal fee shall be as established in YCC Title 20; provided, that such appeal fee shall not be charged to other than the first appellant.

(3)    The notice of appeal shall specify the claimed error(s) or issue(s) which are being appealed and shall specifically state all the grounds for such appeal. Issues or grounds of appeal which are not so identified shall not be considered by the board.

(4)    The department shall notify the parties of record that an appeal has been filed and that copies of the notice of appeal and any written argument or memorandum of authorities accompanying the notice of appeal may be obtained from the department. The notice to parties shall also state that parties of record wishing to respond to the appeal may submit written argument or memorandum to the board within fourteen days from the date that the notice to the parties is mailed and shall further specify that such written argument or memorandum shall not include the presentation of new evidence and shall be based only upon the facts presented to the examiner. A copy of the notice shall be sent to the appellant.

(5)    The appellant or any party of record may submit a written argument or memorandum of authority within fourteen days of the date of mailing of the notice of appeal to parties of record. Such written argument or memorandum of authorities shall be filed with the department. No written argument or authorities may be thereafter submitted. Memoranda, written argument or comments shall not include the presentation of any new evidence and shall be based only on the facts presented to the examiner.

(6)    When a timely appeal has been filed and the deadline for receipt of written memoranda has passed, the department shall, within five days, deliver to the board a copy of the examiner’s decision, the evidence presented to the examiner, an audio recording of the hearing before the examiner and any written argument or memorandum of authority which has been received.

(Res. 80-2016 (Exh. A) (part), 2016; Ord. 8A-2010 § 2, 2011: Ord. 8-1985 §1(part), 1986).

2.23.150 Effect of Appeal.

The timely filing of an appeal under this chapter shall stay the effective date of the examiner’s decision until the appeal is adjudicated by the board or until the appeal is withdrawn.

(Ord. 8-1985 §1(part), 1986).

2.23.160 Board Action on Appeals.

(1)    General. When the record and the examiner’s decision has been transmitted to the board, the clerk of the board shall schedule a date for a public meeting by the board at which time the board shall consider the appeal. The date of the public meeting should not be later than twenty days following the date the board receives the information from the department.

(2)    Public Notice of Meeting on Appeals. The clerk of the board shall mail written notice to all parties of record and the examiner to apprise them of the meeting date before the board.

(3)    Site Views. The board may view the site.

(4)    Scope of Review. Board review of the facts shall be limited to evidence presented to the examiner. The board may request additional information or memoranda in order to reach a decision, provided that all parties of record are given an opportunity to respond to the material provided.

(5)    Action on Appeal. At the public meeting, the board may adopt, amend and adopt, reject, reverse, amend and reverse the findings, conclusions and decision of the examiner or remand the matter for further consideration or for purpose of taking and considering new factual evidence by the examiner. If the board renders a decision different from the decision of the examiner, the board shall adopt amended findings and conclusions accordingly.

(Ord. 8-1985 §1(part), 1986).

2.23.170 Appeal of Decisions Made by Board.

The action of the board on appeal of the decision of the examiner shall be final and conclusive unless, within thirty days from the date of final action, an aggrieved party obtains an appropriate writ of judicial review for the purpose of review of the action taken or files an appropriate appeal as allowed by law. The appellant shall provide or pay for, in advance, the cost of preparing any verbatim transcript of proceedings required for judicial appeal. With the consent of the superior court, the parties may agree to provide a verbatim audio record of proceedings for purposes of review by the superior court.

(Ord. 8-1985 §1(part), 1986).

2.23.180 Annual Report.

The examiner shall report in writing to and meet with the planning commission and board of county commissioners at least annually for the purpose of reviewing the administration of the county’s land use policies and regulating ordinances. The report shall include a summary of the examiner’s decisions since the prior report.

(Ord. 11-2009 § 2, 2010: Ord. 8-1985 §1(part), 1986).