Former Clallam County Superior Court Judge Brian Coughenour is avoiding further code enforcement action by making satisfactory efforts to clean up his property along East Fifth Street in Port Angeles, according to city officials. (Paul Gottlieb/Peninsula Daily News)

Former Clallam County Superior Court Judge Brian Coughenour is avoiding further code enforcement action by making satisfactory efforts to clean up his property along East Fifth Street in Port Angeles, according to city officials. (Paul Gottlieb/Peninsula Daily News)

Progress seen in Cougenour property cleanup

Most of public right of way clear

PORT ANGELES — A former Clallam County Superior Court judge who was ordered to clean up his junk-strewn property has made enough progress to avoid court action as he continues the abatement, Deputy Police Chief Jason Viada said Wednesday.

Viada said Brian Coughenour has hauled away nearly a dozen dump-truck loads of refuse from his lots at 101, 105 and 115 E. Fifth St. less than a block from Lincoln Street.

“He has made substantial progress,” Viada said.

Viada said Coughenour, 70, who retired July 1, has cleared most of the public right-of-way along East Fifth and South Laurel streets and along the broad alley from South Laurel to Lincoln Street between Coughenour’s parcels and the Safeway store.

“Despite that, there’s a lot of junk that remains,” Viada said.

“What everyone involved realizes is there was more junk there than any of us initially thought.”

Viada said there is no deadline for the cleanup.

“The goal is for the mess to be cleaned up, and Judge Coughenour is being cooperative and [is] working toward that,” he said.

“As long as that happens at a satisfactory pace, there’s no reason to derail that.”

In response Wednesday to a request for an interview, Coughenour texted that he had hauled away “numerous pickup loads and six vehicles off the premises” along with 11 dump truck loads of refuse.

The parcels were laden with scrap wood, metal, appliances, tires and large chunks of concrete.

Coughenour did not respond to a question about when he expected to complete the cleanup.

Dorothy Spring, who tutors children out of a second-floor office that overlooks Coughenour’s properties and the Safeway parking lot, said Wednesday the former judge’s parcels look somewhat better than they did.

“It has improved, but it’s not all that rosy,” she said.

“It still looks like rat heaven to me.”

Spring said she constantly finds drug paraphernalia in the general area.

City Attorney Bill Bloor told Coughenour in a Sept. 1 letter there were a “multitude of complaints, code violations, violence, other criminal activity and medical emergencies” on the parcels and asked him to “improve conditions on the property.”

City Code Enforcement Officer Erin Brown warned Coughenour Sept. 30 that the city would initiate abatement proceedings by Oct. 16 if numerous land-use violations were not addressed.

A cleanup agreement between Coughenour and the city that was in the works in October was never signed.

“There was never a draft that both parties could agree to,” Viada said.

Coughenour had offered to clean up the parcels by Thanksgiving, and the city had been willing to give him until Tuesday.

“He can just clean everything up, which that seems to be the path that he has chosen,” Viada said.

Viada did not know where the refuse has been taken.

Excavator operator Jim Bishop of Port Angeles, hired by Coughenour to haul away debris, told Peninsula Daily News on Nov. 5 that some would be deposited at the city transfer station.

Coughenour said in his text message that he did not take any of it to Lake Dawn Road.

He deeded Lake Dawn Road property to his son, Cody, on Oct. 20, four days after a deadline set by the city to abate the nuisance.

Cody had lived at his father’s former law office at 101 E. Fifth St. and had been managing the three parcels, including the ToadLily House International Hostel at 105 E. Fifth St., which has been shut down.

A Clallam County notice of violation for the Lake Dawn Road property was mailed to Cody Coughenour on Nov. 23 for the presence of junk including a partially dismantled recreational vehicle, scrap wood, scrap metal and other refuse.

The notice was prompted by neighbor Tracey Gudgel’s Oct. 26 complaint about refuse, including a fifth-wheel Gudgel said had been parked at the Fifth Street properties.

A hearing examiner hearing on the county notice is at 10 a.m. Dec. 17.

Cody Coughenour has been barred from the East Fifth Street properties and has until Dec. 11 to have his vehicles and personal belongings removed, according to a Nov. 20 Clallam County Superior Court court order requested by his father.

It was issued over an incident that occurred at Coughenour’s Eden Valley Road home.

Requesting the order “is the hardest thing I have had to do, but I have no choice,” Coughenour said.

In his petition, he said trash and debris on the parcels “have pretty much destroyed the property.”

He said over the past 18 months his son had collected “garbage, junk vehicles and other unsightly and dangerous items of personal property that need to be removed, and allowed known drug users to reside there.”

He said between mid-October and mid-November, he had been “trying to address the city’s concerns with little, if any help, from my son.”

Cody Coughenour could not be reached Wednesday for comment.

He said in an earlier interview that he was taken advantage of by people who needed a place to stay during the COVID-19 pandemic, that garbage accumulated from people staying there and from passersby, and that items accumulated on the parcels after an attempt to start a sales and liquidation company failed.

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].

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