Code violators to be discussed in committee

Tony Lange

Repeat violators of city codes may be dealt with differently in the future.

At Wednesday evening’s Kent city council meeting, Tracy Wallach, Ward 6 councilwoman, said echoes of complaint among residents in her ward is an issue that needs to be examined in committee. The motion was unanimously approved.

“Why do people continue to repeat violations? Are the fines not being enforced? Are they not being collected? What’s going on?” Wallach said. “That’s why I put it in the committee—to talk about exactly what we can do.”

Some of the violations are from having too many people living in a house, Wallach said. Others are illegal parking, trash in front yards and noise, she said.

“We need to be able to track these things so we know as council people and residents what’s going on,” she said. “When complaints are filed, is somebody actually coming out to the property, and is somebody giving them a violation and fining them and things like that? That’s what we have to find out.”

Gary Locke, Kent’s community development director, was also at the Wednesday evening meeting. His department’s personnel are in charge of code enforcement.

There are properties in town that have the same recurring problems, he said.

“I would like to find out which properties she was talking about so I can go back to my people and say ‘What’s the deal here? What’s going on?’” Locke said. “Since I don’t know what property specifically she’s talking about, I can’t really respond to what the issue is there.”

Locke said his department has a simple database to track violations, but it isn’t as efficient as it could be.

“We didn’t have the money to go out and have somebody do it professionally,” he said. “The database was created internally.”

Civil infractions have the ability to cut back the repeat violations, Locke said. His department just stared using them this year.

Wallach said she doesn’t know if the code inspectors need to do a better job or just need help.

“They might be doing their job and not being backed up,” she said. “That’s why we need to take a look at it. I don’t know what’s going on at this point.”

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