Hollywood Hill Association

County Code Enforcement Needs Reform

Code enforcement is crucial to defending our property rights from that minority who either don’t know or don’t care about the negative effects their actions may have on their neighbors and the greater community around them.

Right now, King County’s code enforcement is essentially non-existent when it comes to defending our zoning and codes. This is no secret in County halls. KC Executive Dow Constantine has recently spoken directly to the need for reform of a dysfunctional code enforcement division. 

It is the Department of Permitting and Environmental Review (DPER) that contains King County’s code enforcement division. It is no secret there, either. Last summer, a very thorough analysis of the situation, along with specific steps that can be taken to improve it, was published by DPER.

 A copy of that document is available here

 One element of effective reform that is not discussed in this document would be to address the current policy that treats all code violators as “customers” (pg.8). King County current policy is to help the violators find ways to continue their activities. This often means loose interpretations of the codes or just outright refusal to follow through with code enforcement actions, even when an underlying use is simply not permitted. This has been the case with the illegal tasting rooms discussed elsewhere.

 Our opinion is that DPER should start dividing code and zoning violators into two groups. One group would be violators’ whose underlying uses are legal but just need some incentive and/or guidance to come into compliance. These could appropriately be referred to as “clients”. 

 The other group would be those whose activities are outright illegal and/or who refuse to bring their activities into compliance. In these cases, we need effective enforcement, not abetment. These violators should not be looked at as “customers”, as they are now.

We will be putting out more information as the reform efforts progress.