The Port Angeles City Council is looking for ways to address vacant properties in Port Angeles. Council members cited 204 E. Front Street as an example of the type of property they would hope to target. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

The Port Angeles City Council is looking for ways to address vacant properties in Port Angeles. Council members cited 204 E. Front Street as an example of the type of property they would hope to target. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

Port Angeles council considering vacant building law

PORT ANGELES — The Port Angeles City Council is considering ways to encourage owners of vacant commercial and residential buildings to put their properties to productive use.

City Council members discussed during a “think tank” session Tuesday night what a vacant building ordinance for the city could look like and what it would take to enforce any new rules.

“In downtown and all of Port Angeles we have a lot of properties that are vacant — whether that’s commercial or residential — but for me the focus is on commercial properties,” said Council member Mike French, who introduced the topic.

“There are properties that have been vacant for my entire career as a business owner. I cannot imagine being next door to them and running my business and being successful.”

French specifically called out two vacant properties on the corners of Front Street and Lincoln Street — often a visitor’s first impression of downtown Port Angeles.

French said he would like to see the city develop an annual fee that owners of vacant properties would have to pay if their property has sat vacant for a certain period of time.

The goal, he said, would be to prevent properties from becoming blights and to encourage owners of properties that are already blights to either develop their property or to sell it to someone that will.

“Putting a fee on this activity that has been going on for years in some cases, provides a win-win,” French said.

“It’s a win in the short term by providing us another revenue stream for code enforcement … and in the long term provides incentive for people to rehabilitate their properties themselves.”

Several council members emphasized they would not want to put in place an ordinance that would punish responsible homeowners who keep their properties maintained and who leave town for the winter.

“The real issue with the whole thing is the eyesores that people see,” said Council member Michael Merideth.

“That is what this should be directed at.”

Meredith said there are people in Port Angeles who have purchased property as an investment and they are not ready to sell or to rent.

“If they keep it up and they are maintaining, they shouldn’t have to pay anything,” he said. “They pay their taxes every year, they’re all caught up, the place is cleaned up, it’s not broken into.”

Merideth said if the city doesn’t have a way to enforce any new laws, then “it’s useless.”

Merideth said the City Council first needs to find a way to fund code enforcement before creating new rules.

“We’re putting the cart before the horse if we create a bunch of ordinances we can’t do anything with,” he said.

The city does not have a code enforcement officer, but French said the fees could be used to help fund code enforcement.

He said that as a nuisance property escalates, the fee could escalate as well.

“When we see private property that is not used productively, it is reasonable for us to consider tools to make sure that property is used productively,” French said.

The council discussed having code enforcement fall under the Port Angeles Police Department.

“Can we say we will take one of these officers and make them a code enforcement officer?” asked Mayor Sissi Bruch.

“It’s one of those things where we’re going to have to make the policy decision as to how to best use our budget.”

Council member Cherie Kidd said the council first needs to discuss any potential changes with the Port Angeles Police Department. Kidd said she could not support taking a police officer off the streets to work code enforcement.

“Every 15 minutes they are out on a call and when someone comes home from work — their back door has been kicked in, they have been robbed by people who need money for drugs — we can’t say your police officer won’t be right there because he’s out looking at vacant houses,” she said.

Council members agreed to continue the discussion following a work session in September that covers code enforcement.

________

Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at [email protected].

More in News

Ryan Malane
Black Ball receives grant from Port Angeles City Council to keep it afloat

US-Canada land border may continue to be closed into 2022

Hospital cases starting to fall

Long-term care resident among 2 deaths

Tucker Weatherly, 3, and Mary Wakefield, 2 1/2, collect leaves and berries from bushes and trees at Railroad Bridge Park in Sequim. They were both on a nature outing last week from Carlsborg-based Bibity Bobity Child Care. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)
A berry fun nature walk

Tucker Weatherly, 3, and Mary Wakefield, 2 1/2, collect leaves and berries… Continue reading

Olympic Medical Cancer Center broke record with money raised

Awards were also announced at the 19th annual Harvest of Hope

Motorcyclist, passenger in stable condition at Harborview

Drug or alchol involved, State Patrol said

Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe given annual award

Land trust to present it this Thursday

If a plan to control the deer population in Sunland is approved by Sunland Owners Association’s board of directors, deer would be reduced to 22 allowed to live in the area with state officials trapping and euthanizing the deer before donating the meat to local food banks. Matthew Nash/Olympic Peninsula News Group
Sunland board considers deer culling

Draft plan could be first in state, serve as case study

The U.S. Lighthouse Society is hosting a kickoff event at 3 p.m. Tuesday at the Point Wilson Lighthouse to highlight the next phase of renovations for the lighthouse and its two dwellings. (Zach Jablonski/Peninsula Daily News)
Public tour at Point Wilson

Point Wilson Lighthouse still being renovated

The Sims Way entrance to Port Townsend is lined with scores of Lombardy poplars — alongside power lines and the Boat Haven. The city and port plan to remove the trees to make room for boatyard expansion. (Diane Urbani de la Paz/Peninsula Daily News)
Iconic trees to be replaced, but with what?

Future meetings to give public chance to comment

Most Read