(Ed. note: The following was submitted by NSCNA co-President Ann Foster)
The September NSCNA general meeting featured a presentation on Clark County Code Enforcement with a focus on public nuisance ordinance. Donna Goddard, Coordinator with Code Enforcement, was well equipped and engaging in presenting relevant and useful information for all of us. The NSCNA board felt that it was worthwhile to recap some of the highlights of the presentation.
A thorough and easy-to-read guide to code enforcement is available on-line. Go to http://www.clark.wa.gov/development/enforcement/documents/ce-neighborhood-guide.pdf. On the righthand side of the page, look for the Quick Find sidebar; the Clark County Neighborhood Guide is listed in pdf format in that sidebar.
There are multiple varieties of enforcement code, such as building, fire, zoning, as well as nuisance. Violations are complaint-based; there is a process for filing a complaint both on-line, by phone and in-person. Code enforcement prefers to receive complaints online at www.clark.wa.gov/development/report.html. County nuisance code is driven by public comment and complaints. County staff does not update code, although it can recommend updated code and revisions to the code to the Board of County Commissioners.
Investigation of a complaint includes sending an inspector, taking photos, sending notices with a due date, daily fines which increase over time. Severe cases of nuisance code violation can be extensive, and involve multiple county agencies.
• By law the owner of property is responsible for complying with enforcement if the property is rented to a tenant;
• Home businesses are exempt if not visible from the street;
• Home-based auto repair businesses are the most frequently noted by neighbors and reported. Cars on property don’t require tags or plates, but must be operable.
• Help is available for those who are unable to clean-up property themselves.
• Community Mediation Services are highly recommended for those neighbor-to-neighbor issues that are not necessarily code violations; taking legal action is less successful, as it can be a long, lengthy process.
• Most of the signs around the county that we see every day are not allowed; exceptions are political and agricultural signs. Real estate signs, garage sale signs and no trespassing signs are only allowed one’s private property.
• Chickens and roosters in unincorporated Clark County are allowed; noise and odors, however, can be subject to neighbor complaints, much as excessive noise from a barking dog.
• Animal control problems, building safety, fire safety, environmental complaints, traffic concerns, abandoned vehicles in a county street are reported to different agencies. These phone numbers are listed in the Clark County Neighborhood Guide. http://www.clark.wa.gov/development/enforcement/documents/ce-neighborhood-guide.pdf
County nuisance code is driven by public comment and complaints. County staff does not update code, although it can recommend updated code and revisions to the code to the Board of County Commissioners.