Port Angeles creates code enforcement fund

PORT ANGELES — City officials have created a special fund to help pay for code enforcement in Port Angeles.

The City Council voted 6-0 Tuesday — with Mayor Sissi Bruch excused — to establish a Code Compliance Enforcement Fund with an initial $50,000 in 2017 budget savings to help pay for the administration and prosecution of code compliance actions in the city.

“This is very important,” City Council member Cherie Kidd said before the vote. “It’s long overdue.”

The city’s code compliance program was slashed during the recession in 2011, officials have said. Port Angeles still does not have a code compliance officer.

Last month, the council brainstormed ways to encourage the owners of vacant homes and run-down commercial buildings to put their structures to productive use.

Michael Merideth cautioned his fellow council members against creating new ordinances without a way to enforce them.

One idea that emerged from the Aug. 14 think tank was to assign code compliance to the Port Angeles Police Department.

A lack of code enforcement was cited by the city Planning Commission in a Aug. 22 rejection of Council member Lindsey Schromen-Wawrin’s proposal to allow people to live in RVs on private property as a temporary remedy to the city’s housing crisis.

The council is expected to discuss code enforcement in a Sept. 25 work session.

City Attorney Bill Bloor said the new fund is necessary to pay the up-front court costs of code enforcement actions.

“The Code Compliance Enforcement Fund will serve as a revolving fund and will allow the city to begin code enforcement actions more efficiently and also account for all revenue received from code enforcement projects,” Bloor said in a memo to the council.

No public comments were received on the first and second readings of the ordinance that established the fund.

“I think that this is an important action,” Council member Mike French said at Tuesday’s meeting.

“I would like to commend staff for recognizing that when we’re talking about vacant property issues and code compliance issues, every issue is going to be its own unique thing and we need to have a lot of tools in our toolbox to successfully attack this problem.

“I’m really excited that we have an upcoming work session where we’re going to be talking about code compliance,” French added.

“And so I think this is an important step as we move toward recognizing this is an issue that we need to take on as a City Council.”

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at [email protected] dailynews.com.

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