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Property Upkeep Code Report July 31 08 - Welcome to Lynnwood, WA

By Thomas Robinson,2014-08-12 16:10
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Property Upkeep Code Report July 31 08 - Welcome to Lynnwood, WA ...

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    3 July 31, 2008

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    5 MEMO

    6 TO: Lynnwood City Council

    7 FROM: Paul Krauss

    8 RE: Property Upkeep Ordinance, Regulating Parking on Residential Lots 9 Request for FYI Update to the Council

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    11 Background

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    13 Proactive Code Enforcement is a vital tool for insuring that property is properly 14 maintained, nuisances are corrected, maintaining a neighborhood’s quality of life and 15 preserving property values. The City Council asked that staff look into options that 16 would aid in responding to issues of vehicles parking on lawns and also look into being 17 able to deal with homes where lawns and vegetation were so unkempt as to constitute a 18 nuisance. During preliminary discussions, the focus on vegetation was dropped. 19

    20 As staff focused more on the section of the Nuisance Ordinance that dealt with parking 21 at homes, staff found that the published code was unusually difficult to interpret. With 22 additional research, staff found that that the ordinance in question, Section 17 of the 23 Nuisance Code, as published in the City Code book, is different from the ordinance that 24 was adopted by the Council in 1998. After ordinances are adopted by the city councils, 25 they are normally sent to outside firms to be “codified” to the municipal code’s legal 26 structure, and then published. Apparently when ordinance was sent to be codified, the 27 firm that did the work edited the ordinance in a way that changed some of the intent and 28 made the code difficult to understand and enforce.

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    30 This memo is intended to provide answers to your questions, explore the problem with 31 adoption and printing of the code, explain what the Code allows and what it doesn’t with 32 regard to parking at homes in Lynnwood, and finally suggest areas that the Council 33 should consider in giving direction to staff with regards to possible amendments to the 34 ordinance in the future.

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    37 Nuisance Code Regulations On Number and Location of Parked Vehicles

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    39 As noted in the opening, staff has had a difficult time working with Section 17 of the 40 Nuisance Code. Even before asking the Council to focus upon the number of vehicles 41 allowed at each home and where they are allowed to park on a lot, staff found the code to 42 be confusing and in some respects internally inconsistent. As we investigated further, we

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    1 found that the language that was codified is not the same ordinance that was adopted by 2 the Council some ten years ago. During the codification process, the firm used by the 3 City appears to have reorganized the ordinance and in this process effectively altering 4 and detracting from it. This confusion has undoubtedly contributed to some of the 5 difficulties our Code Enforcement staff has had in trying to apply it. Both versions are 6 provided as an attachment to this memo. For the sake of clarity our comments on the 7 ordinance are based upon the version as adopted (Ordinance No. 2187 July 13, 1998) and 8 not the one printed in the code book. The City Attorney has determined that this version 9 is actually the code that is in effect. In response to the Council’s questions, definitions of

    10 Front, Side and Year Yard per LMC are provided as an attachment to this memo. These 11 definitions are important in understanding how this code is applied. 12

    13 1. The Code allows up to 4 cars on each lot parked outside. More cars can be 14 permitted if it can be demonstrated that there are more than 4 licensed drivers. 15 2. Cars, trucks, boats, etc., parked inside a building do not count towards the 16 maximum allowed.

    17 3. Additionally, the Code allows up to 3 RV’s, trailers, boats or canopy shells. More 18 are allowed on a temporary basis (12 hours or less) for guests or maintenance. 19 4. Any of the allowed vehicles can be parked in a designated driveway. The Code 20 provides a definition for “designated driveway”. It must be surfaced and can be

    21 up to 24’ wide. A home is allowed to have more than one driveway but vehicles 22 can only be parked in the front yard, on one of them.

    23 5. Any combination of 2 of the allowed vehicles (cars, RV’s, boats, etc) may be

    24 parked in any side or rear yard area without need to surface the parking spot. 25 Under LMC the front yard is the area located between the street ROW and the 26 front yard setback. Thus the front yard only extends 25’ back from the street (RS-

    27 8 zone). Many but not all homes are built to the front setback line. There are 28 instances where the home is set back further than 25’ from the street. In those

    29 cases, the area between the front yard setback and the house becomes defined as 30 side yard in spite of the fact that it is front of the house. In these cases and only in 31 these cases, cars, RV’s, boats, etc may be parked on the grass in what would

    32 appear to most people, to be the front yard.

    33 6. In addition to permitted driveway parking (item 4 above) there is a limited 34 allowance for additional parking in the front yard. This allowance is only 35 applicable for homes where there is no sidewalk. In these cases, cars or light 36 trucks (not the RV’s, boats, etc.) may be parked in the front yard, off the driveway, 37 within 20’ of the street as long as the parking area is surfaced. Staff believes the

    38 intent was to allow more flexibility when there was no need to drive over a City 39 sidewalk although it isn’t clear why it was believed that these lots warranted a 40 greater parking allowance than homes located on streets with sidewalks. 41 7. The Nuisance Code does not provide for regulation of vehicles parked in the 42 public ROW. Where on-street parking regulations exist they are controlled by 43 other sections of City Code (see discussion on parking of commercial vehicles in 44 residential zones, below).

    45 8. All vehicles parked outside must be currently licensed and operable (refer to 46 “Junk Vehicle” code information provide below).

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    3 Junk Vehicles Definition

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    5 Information on the City’s regulation of “junk vehicles” is being provided to help

    6 understand the scope of issues around cars parking on residential lots. At a recent Work 7 Session, the Council discussed regulation of “junk” vehicles. It is important to

    8 understand that the permitted parking described above does not apply to vehicles that are 9 determined to be “junk”.

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    11 LMC Sections 10.08.090 through 10.08.190 deal specifically and only with “junk” 12 vehicles. The code declares junk vehicles to be a nuisance which can then be enforced by 13 the City. The Code actually has two definitions of what constitutes a junk vehicle. The 14 first in 10.08.100 uses the definition established by State RCW. In 1998 the City 15 adopted a second and possibly somewhat more inclusive definition of “junk” in Section

    16 10.08.190. It “includes all abandoned motor vehicles and any vehicle parts and all motor 17 vehicles incapable of being presently operated and driven. No amendments to “junk

    18 vehicle” regulations are proposed at this time. From and enforcement standpoint, it is

    19 important to understand that when a vehicle has been determined to be “junk”, this is

    20 conclusive evidence that a nuisance code violation exists.

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    23 Commercial Vehicle Parking in Residential Districts

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    25 The Council received an email from a constituent (attached) concerning the parking of 26 commercial vehicles on residential properties. The City was encouraged to consider 27 adopting regulations imposing limitations on their parking for anything other than 28 delivery purposes (see attached). Several of you forwarded the email to me for comments. 29

    30 City Code does not specifically address parking of commercial vehicles on residential 31 lots. There is however a prohibition against parking these vehicles in the public street 32 overnight in Chapter 11 Traffic which is enforced by LPD:

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    34 11.44.095 Overnight parking prohibited in residential areas.

    35 A. It is unlawful to park, or otherwise leave, overnight, or between the hours of 12:01 a.m. 36 and 6:00 a.m., on any street or highway in the city of Lynnwood within or abutting an 37 area classified as residential (RS, RD, RML, or RMH) or open space (OS) by the official 38 zoning ordinance, the following types of trailers and/or vehicles:

    39 1. All types of trailers designed to be drawn by a motor vehicle except recreation trailers; 40 2. Buses and trucks used for business purposes in whole or in part, excluding pickup or 41 panel trucks of less than one ton capacity.

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    1 B. It is unlawful to park or otherwise leave on any street or highway in the city of 2 Lynnwood, within or abutting an area classified as residential (RS, RD, RML, or RMH) 3 or open space (OS) by the official zoning ordinance, any recreation trailer if such trailer: 4 1. Is so parked illegally as to constitute a definite hazard or obstruction to the normal 5 movement of traffic; or

    6 2. Has been parked or left standing in any public street or alley for any continuous 7 period of time of more than 168 hours.

    8 C. It is not necessary that restricted parking or other traffic signs be erected for the 9 purpose of enforcing this section. (Ord. 2164 ? 15, 1997; Ord. 809 ? 1, 1975; Ord. 783 10 ? 1(B), 1975)

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    12 The issues presented in the email are serious and involve several commercial vehicles 13 although there appear to be numerous other code enforcement issues as well. City staff 14 has been assigned to the case. I visited the site and noted that the City should be able to 15 start enforcements using the “junk vehicle” regulations and using Section 17 as actually

    16 adopted by the Council, to have the issues resolved. Additionally, the bus is parked in the 17 street and should be subject to regulation under LMC 11.44.095 (see above). 18

    19 Regulating parking of commercial vehicles is a fairly common restriction in residential 20 zones of many cities. Staff finds that LMC 10.17 does not establish a clear regulatory 21 program for commercial vehicles parked on private property. If the City Council wishes 22 to address this issue through additional regulation, a cautious approach is advocated. It 23 is important that such codes consider differentiation between light-duty commercial 24 trucks and vans that are often taken home. For example, a plumber or an electrician may 25 take their light truck or van home from their place of work to be able to respond to 26 emergencies after hours. In many cases, light duty commercial vehicles are identical to 27 the SUV’s and vans that might otherwise be used by the residents for personal use. 28 Therefore, it a common approach is to establish regulations based upon the size of the 29 commercial vehicle as suggested by Ms. James in her email (over 10,000 lbs not 30 permitted).

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    32 Questions for Council Direction

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    34 With the clarification to the Code based upon what the Council actually adopted, and 35 based upon the information provided herein, the Council may wish to consider giving 36 direction to staff in the following areas. The Council may of course add further issues 37 and concerns.

    38 1. The maximum number of vehicles allowed to park outside at a home (currently up 39 to 7)

    40 2. Further definition as to where vehicles should be allowed to park outside the 41 home.

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    1 3. Should the City consider restriction on the parking of commercial vehicles at 2 single family homes?

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1 Front Side and Rear Yard Definitions

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    3 The Council appeared to have questions regarding the definition of front, side and rear 4 yards. The following definitions are from LMC

    5 21.02.820 Yards, types and measurements.

    6 A. Front Yard. “Front yard” means an area extending across the full width of the lot and

    7 lying between the lot front line and a line drawn parallel thereto, and at a distance there 8 from equal to the required front yard depth as prescribed in each classification. Front 9 yards shall be measured by a line at right angles to the lot front line, or by the radial line 10 or radial line extended in the case of a curved lot front line.

    11 B. Side Yard. “Side yard” means an open area measured from the lot side line toward the 12 center of the lot and extending from the rear line of the required front yard, toward the 13 lot rear line to a point measuring two-thirds of the depth of the lot, except that on the side 14 of corner lots and reverse corner lots, the required side yard shall extend to the rear line 15 of the lot. The width of the side yard shall be measured horizontally from, and be parallel 16 to the lot side line from which it is measured.

    17 C. Rear Yard. “Rear yard” means an open space extending across the full width of the 18 lot between the principal buildings and the rear lot line; the required depth of the rear 19 yard shall be measured horizontally at right angles from the nearest point of the rear lot 20 line toward the nearest point of the principal building, not including permitted 21 architectural features. (Ord. 2020 ? 2, 1994; Ord. 190 Art. IV ? 425, 1964) 22

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    2 LMC JUNK VEHICLE REGULATIONS

    3 10.08.090 Junk vehicle as public nuisance.

    4 The following is declared to be a nuisance affecting public peace, safety and welfare; 5 junk vehicles as defined below or parts thereof located on private property. (Ord. 2187 6 ? 1, 1998; Ord. 1573 ? 7, 1987)

    7 10.08.100 Junk vehicle defined.

    8 “Junk vehicle” means a vehicle certified under RCW 46.55.230 as meeting at least three 9 of the following requirements:

    10 A. Is three years old or older;

    11 B. Is extensively damaged, such damage including but not limited to any of the following: 12 a broken window or windshield or missing wheels, tires, motor or transmission; 13 C. Is apparently inoperable;

    14 D. Has an approximate fair market value equal only to the approximate value of the 15 scrap in it. (Ord. 2011 ? 3, 1994; Ord. 1573 ? 8, 1987)

    16 10.08.110 Junk vehicles certification.

    17 The Lynnwood police department may inspect and certify that a vehicle meets the 18 requirements of a junk vehicle. The officer making the certification shall record the make 19 and vehicle identification number or license number of the vehicle if available, and shall 20 also describe in detail the damage or missing equipment to verify that the value of the 21 junk vehicle is equivalent only to the value of the scrap in it. (Ord. 1573 ? 9, 1987) 22 10.08.120 Junk vehicle Abatement and removal notice, hearing.

    23 A. Upon certification by the Lynnwood police department that a vehicle is a junk vehicle, 24 notice shall be provided to the last registered owner of the vehicle and to the property 25 owner of record that the vehicle has been certified to be a junk vehicle and that it will be 26 removed and disposed of as a junk vehicle within 14 days of receipt of said notice unless 27 the owner of the vehicle or the property owner requests a hearing to contest the 28 abatement and removal of the vehicle or part thereof. Such hearing, if requested, shall be 29 heard by a city hearing examiner appointed for such proceedings.

    30 B. If a timely request for a hearing is received by the city, the city shall mail by certified 31 mail, with a five-day return receipt requested and by regular mail to (1) the owner of the

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    1 land, as shown on the last equalized assessment roll, (2) the person requesting the 2 hearing, and (3) the last registered and legal owner of record unless the vehicle is in 3 such condition that identification numbers are not available to determine ownership, 4 notice of the time, location and date of the hearing on the question of abatement and 5 removal of the vehicle or part thereof as a public nuisance.

    6 C. The owner of the land on which the vehicle is located may appear in person at the 7 hearing or present a written statement in time for consideration at the hearing and deny 8 responsibility for the presence of the vehicle on the land with his reasons for the denial. If 9 it is determined at the hearing that the vehicle was placed on the land without the consent 10 of the landowner and that he has not subsequently acquiesced in its presence, then 11 neither the land owner nor the property owner shall be assessed the costs of 12 administration or removal of the vehicle. (Ord. 1573 ? 10, 1987)

    13 10.08.130 Junk vehicle Designated disposal site.

    14 Tow truck operators with a letter of appointment from the city shall, upon request of the 15 city police department, remove to a disposal site designated junk vehicles or parts thereof. 16 Costs of such removal shall be recovered by the tow truck operators in accordance with 17 RCW 46.55.130 as now or hereafter amended. (Ord. 1573 ? 11, 1987)

    18 10.08.140 Removal of junk vehicle or parts thereof.

    19 After notice as provided herein has been given of the intent of the city to dispose of a junk 20 vehicle and after a hearing, if requested, has been held, the police department shall make 21 arrangements with a tow truck operator to remove said vehicle or part to a disposal site. 22 The police department shall notify the Washington State Patrol and the Department of 23 Licensing that said vehicle has been wrecked. (Ord. 1573 ? 12, 1987)

    24 10.08.150 Junk vehicle Cost assessment.

    25 Costs of abatement and removal may be assessed against the last registered owner of the 26 vehicle or parts thereof if the identity of the owner can be determined, unless the owner 27 in the transfer of ownership of the vehicle has complied with RCW 46.12.100, or the costs 28 may be assessed against the owner of the property on which the vehicle is stored. (Ord. 29 1573 ? 13, 1987)

    30 10.08.160 Junk vehicle Abatement and removal exception.

    31 The abatement and removal of junk vehicles shall not apply to:

    32 A. A vehicle or part thereof that is completely enclosed within a building in a lawful 33 manner where it is not visible from the street or other public or private property; or

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    1 B. A vehicle or part thereof that is stored or parked in a lawful manner on private 2 property in connection with the business of a licensed dismantler or licensed vehicle 3 dealer and is fenced according to RCW 46.80.130. (Ord. 1573 ? 14, 1987)

    4 10.08.190 Junk defined.

    5 For the purposes of this chapter, “junk” is defined to include all abandoned motor 6 vehicles and any vehicle parts, and all motor vehicles incapable of being presently 7 operated and driven, all appliances or parts thereof, broken or discarded furniture, 8 mattresses, and all iron or other metal, glass, paper, wire, cardboard, lumber, wood, 9 building materials, and all waste or discarded material. Lumber and wood being used for 10 an immediate construction project pursuant to a valid building permit is exempt. (Ord. 11 2187 ? 1, 1998)

    12 10.08.200 Public nuisance defined.

    13 A. Every act unlawfully done and every omission to perform a duty, which act or 14 omission does any of the following, shall constitute a public nuisance:

    15 1. Injures, endangers or unreasonably annoys the safety, health, comfort, or repose of the 16 citizens of the city; or

    17 2. Offends public decency; or

    18 3. Unlawfully interferes with, obstructs, or tends to obstruct, or renders dangerous for 19 passage, a public park, street, alley, highway, stream, canal, or basin; or 20 4. In any way renders any citizens of the city insecure in life or use of property. 21 B. The following acts, in addition to any others in violation of subsection (A) of this 22 section, shall constitute a public nuisance:

    23 1. Throwing, depositions, exposing, or causing to be disposed of, in any street or other 24 public place within the city, and garbage, waste, refuse, litter, debris, or other offensive 25 material, unless the disposal of such items in such place is specifically authorized by law; 26 2. Causing or allowing garbage, waste, refuse, litter, debris, or other offensive materials 27 to be collected or deposited, or to remain in any place in the city, to the annoyance of any 28 person, unless otherwise permitted by law;

    29 3. Erecting, continuing, or using any building, room, property, or other place in the city 30 for the exercise of any trade, employment, or manufacture which results in offensive 31 odors or other annoyances being released, and which annoys, injures, or is offensive or 32 detrimental to the health of the individuals there employed or residing, or the public;

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    1 4. Burning of refuse or other material in such a manner as to cause or permit the smoke, 2 ashes, or gases arising from such burning to become discomforting or annoying, or to 3 injure or endanger the health of any person or neighborhood;

    4 5. All houses, rooms, booths, or other structures used as a place of resort where 5 disorderly persons are allowed to congregate, or in which drunkenness is carried on or 6 permitted;

    7 6. Any pit, basin, hole, or other excavation which is unguarded and dangerous to life, or 8 has been abandoned, or is no longer used for the purpose for which it was constructed, 9 or is maintained contrary to law;

    10 7. All obstructions to streets, rights-of-way, or other public ways in the city, and all 11 excavations in or under the same, which are by ordinance prohibited, or which may be 12 made without lawful permission, or which, having been made by lawful permission, are 13 kept and maintained after the purpose thereof has been accomplished, or for an 14 unreasonable length of time;

    15 8. Erecting, maintaining, using, placing, depositing, leaving, or permitting to be or 16 remain in or upon, any private lot, building, structure, or premises, or in or upon any 17 street, alley, sidewalk, park, parkway, or other public or private place in the city, any one 18 or more of, but not limited to, the following conditions or things:

    19 a. Any unsound, putrid, or unwholesome bone, meat, hides, skin, or the whole or parts of 20 any dead animal or fish, or any unsound, putrid, or unwholesome substance; or the offal, 21 garbage, or other offensive parts of any animals; or any noxious, offensive, dangerous or 22 otherwise injurious, chemicals or other materials such as oil, grease, poisons, explosives, 23 radioactive materials, and other similar substances in such a manner as to be offensive 24 or injurious to public health, or unpleasant or disagreeable to the adjacent residences or 25 persons;

    26 b. Any cellar, vault, drain, sewer, or septic tank to become, from any cause, noxious, foul, 27 offensive, or injurious to public health, or unpleasant or disagreeable to the adjacent 28 residences or persons;

    29 c. Any noxious, foul, or putrid liquid or substances, or any liquid or substance likely to 30 become noxious, foul, offensive, or putrid, to be discharged, placed or thrown upon or to 31 flow from or out of, any premises into, or upon, any adjacent premises, or any public 32 street or alley, or to stand, remain, or be upon any premises;

    33 9. All vacant, unused, or unoccupied buildings and structures within the city, which are 34 allowed to become or remain open to entrance by unauthorized persons or the general 35 public, because of broken, missing, or open doors, windows, or other openings, so that 36 the same may be used by vagrants or other persons in a manner detrimental to the health 37 and welfare of the inhabitants of the city;

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