Jim Bishop operates an excavator Monday, Nov. 2, 2020, on property being cleaned up on orders from Port Angeles city officials. The property is owned by former Judge Brian Coughenour. (Paul Gottlieb/Peninsula Daily News)

Jim Bishop operates an excavator Monday, Nov. 2, 2020, on property being cleaned up on orders from Port Angeles city officials. The property is owned by former Judge Brian Coughenour. (Paul Gottlieb/Peninsula Daily News)

Coughenour, Port Angeles officials propose agreements on cleanup

Debris being moved out from property on East Fifth Street

PORT ANGELES — A cleanup agreement proposed by city officials gives Brian Coughenour until Dec. 1 to clean up his debris-strewn property on East Fifth Street, a week longer than he had proposed.

City officials have sent Coughenour, a former Clallam County Superior Court judge, the pact for his review, Deputy Police Chief Jason Viada said Tuesday. The agreement is based on the Eden Valley Road resident’s offer to remove the metal and wood scrap, concrete refuse and abandoned vehicles from in front of and behind his 101, 105 and 115 E. Fifth St. parcels by Thanksgiving.

Coughenour made the proposal following a warning by the city police department’s code enforcement division and growing complaints over the condition of the property.

“My plan is to have the place looking normal by Thanksgiving, if not before,” he pledged in an Oct. 15 email to Code Enforcement Officer Erin Brown, who had threatened possible court action if Coughenour did not move toward abating the nuisance.

Viada did not know the agreement’s status Tuesday, and City Attorney Bill Bloor and Assistant City Attorney Chris Cowgill did not return calls for comment.

Former Clallam County Superior Court Judge Brian Coughenour is seen at his East Fifth Street property Monday, Nov. 2, 2020. (Paul Gottlieb/Peninsula Daily News)

Former Clallam County Superior Court Judge Brian Coughenour is seen at his East Fifth Street property Monday, Nov. 2, 2020. (Paul Gottlieb/Peninsula Daily News)

The agreement, not yet a public document because it is in draft form, says the debris must be “disposed of in an approved manner,” Viada said Tuesday, saying he was quoting from the agreement.

Coughenour, dressed in jeans and work gloves, was working on the parcels Monday, picking up and moving refuse. The property is located across a broad, paved alley next to the Lincoln Street Safeway store and includes his former law office.

The former jurist, who resigned June 1, would not comment on the cleanup on Tuesday.

Excavator operator Jim Bishop of Port Angeles, owner of Bishop Enterprises and hired by Coughenour, said Monday that Brown was at the site earlier Monday morning.

“We’re just trying to clean it all up so it doesn’t look like a nuisance,” Bishop said while taking a break. Bishop, who owns a scrap metal business, said he would take some of the debris, that the dozen-or-so tires would be recycled by a tire dealer, and that some of the refuse would go to the city dump, or transfer station.

“Some of the buildings, they are going to leave,” he said.

Tracy Gudgel, a 106 Lake Dawn Road resident, said Tuesday he filed a complaint with the Clallam County code enforcement division related to the cleanup. The county received it Oct. 26. Gudgel alleged that metal scrap, trailers and a long, tarp-covered fifth-wheel from Coughenour’s property had been left on land near Gudgel’s, land newly owned by Brian Coughenour’s son.

Cody Coughenour manages his father’s East Fifth Street properties, which include the closed ToadLily House International Hostel.

“He’s kind of been bringing stuff up off and on for a while, ever since the enforcement action by the city last month,” Gudgel said.

He said the debris was deposited on property at 100, 104 and 108 Lake Dawn Road, all adjoining parcels.

Brown’s notice of violation to the former judge had set Oct. 16 as the deadline for him to haul the debris and vehicles off the East Fifth Street properties. Brian Coughenour transferred the Lake Dawn Road parcels by warranty deed Oct. 20 to his son, according to the Clallam County Assessor’s Office. A week later, Clallam County code enforcement personnel visited the Lake Dawn Road parcels.

“We visit[ed] the property on Oct. 26 and documented the violations,” said Jesse Major — a county code enforcement officer who is a former Peninsula Daily News reporter now working for the county and doing freelance work — in an email Monday to Gudgel.

“I hand-delivered and mailed a letter to the property owner, Cody Coughenour. In that letter (attached), we require all violations to be abated no later than Nov. 17,” Major said in the email.

“I visited the property again today [Monday] and saw that there is no new waste. We have offered to place a 15-yard dumpster on the property to assist in the cleanup.”

Land-use code enforcement is a division of the county Department of Community Development.

Major’s Oct. 26 Warning of Civil Code Violation to Cody Coughenour that he had attached to the email cited “a significant amount of solid waste, a partially dismantled RV and a Winnebago RV” on the property. Major said in the notice that a tenant on Coughenour’s property said Coughenour had “begun moving vehicles and debris from your Fifth Street properties to your Lake Dawn Road properties and that people have been working ‘throughout the night.’

“There is no bathroom available to these people and [the tenant] stated he has found human feces on the ground. We have raised these concerns to Clallam County Environmental Health Services.”

The three East Fifth Street parcels have prompted numerous citizen complaints and police calls since at least May. Coughenour has said homeless people were drawn to the property during the COVID-19 pandemic and were difficult to remove because of Gov. Jay Inslee’s moratorium on evictions.

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at pgottlieb@peninsuladailynews.com.

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