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Nuisances on Public Property and Public Ways

This page provides examples of local government regulation of nuisances on public property in Washington State. It is part of MRSC's series on nuisances.

Begging, Pedestrian Interference

  • Covington Municipal Code Ch. 9.190 - Solicitation. Defines aggressive solicitation using specific parameters
  • Issaquah Municipal Code Ch. 9.45, Regulation of Solicitation - regulates time and specific streets and intersections
  • Lakewood Municipal Code Ch. 9A.04 - Aggressive begging - Restricted areas includes ATMs, public transportation facilities, off ramps, and other specified places.
  • Pierce County Code
  • Seattle Municipal Code Sec. 12A.12.015 - Pedestrian Interference - Defines to beg, aggressively beg, obstruct pedestrian or vehicular traffic, and public place - A person is guilty of pedestrian interference if he or she intentionally obstructs pedestrian or vehicular traffic or aggressively begs in a public place
  • Tacoma Ordinance No. 27600 (2007) - Vehicular or Pedestrian Interference, file also contains research on comparative municipal ordinances in various U.S. cities, and comparison spread sheet

Camping on Public Property

  • Burlington Municipal Code Ch. 8.20 - Camping - Includes camping on public property, allows camping in recreational vehicles up to 7 days without a permit.
  • Everett Municipal Code Ch. 8.56 - Camping - Prohibits camping in park or street, exempts recreational vehicles, provides for permits.
  • Friday Harbor Municipal Code Sec. 10.04.050 (E) - Prohibited stopping, standing or parking areas [...] E. Parking of any vehicle on any town street for the purpose of camping or sleeping therein is prohibited.
  • Pierce County Code Ch. 8.96 - Parking and Camping Prohibited - Prohibits any person to park or camp on any County property except in areas specifically designated and posted for those purposes.
  • Toppenish Ordinance No. 2012-3 - Prohibits use of public property for camping purposes or storage of personal property, passed 04/09/2012
  • Vancouver Municipal Code Ch. 8.22 - Camping - Public place prohibitions more specific, provides for permit
  • Westport Municipal Code Ch. 6.24 - Camping on Public Property - It is unlawful for any person to park any motor vehicle or trailer or place a tent or any other structure or material on public property for the purpose of sleeping therein or thereon or maintaining the same as a temporary or permanent residence.


  • Bellingham Municipal Code Sec. 10.28.020 - Nuisances Declared - S. The use of property abutting on a public street or sidewalk which causes large crowds of people to gather, obstructing traffic and the free use of the streets or sidewalks
  • Seattle Municipal Code Ch. 15.52 Crowd Control Events - Sets out criteria when a permit is required when impact of an event would preclude in whole or in significant part the public's normal and customary use of such park or public place.
  • Tacoma Municipal Code Ch. 8.60 - Unlawful Assembly - Interference with free use of streets prohibited

Cruising and Street Racing

A number of cities have adopted anti-cruising ordinances that prohibit individuals from repeatedly driving on certain streets at certain times; such ordinances have been upheld by the courts, and they have been effective in some cities. Anti-cruising ordinances help to alleviate traffic congestion by dispersing the people who want to cruise, thus lessening the likelihood of violence and antisocial behavior. Care should be taken to avoid passage of an overly broad cruising ordinance, which might invite a legal challenge. Not all cities have conditions justifying such ordinances.

  • Kent
    • Kent Municipal Code Ch. 9.42 - Unlawful Race Attendance - Related to street racing
    • Kent Municipal Code Ch. 9.43 - Stay Out of Areas Racing - SOAR - Prohibits persons from engaging in racing or unlawful race attendance within a “No Racing Zone,” as set forth in Kent Municipal Code Sec 9.43.030.
  • Kirkland Municipal Code Ch. 12.29 - Cruising - Designates no congestion areas and prohibits cruising in those areas
  • Puyallup Municipal Code Ch. 10.70 - Cruising - Provides for no cruising areas and posting of signs
  • Yakima Municipal Code Ch. 9.25 - Cruising Control - Provides criteria for determine no cruising areas - provides for open cruising event on specific dates during the year.

Debris on Roadway

  • RCW 46.61.655 - Dropping load, other materials — Covering - Provides that no vehicle shall be driven or moved on any public highway unless such vehicle is so constructed or loaded as to prevent any of its load from dropping, sifting, leaking, or otherwise escaping. This has also been adopted by reference in the Model Traffic Ordinance.
  • Cheney Municipal Code Ch. 12.40 - Debris Removal - Covers transportation of debris, depositing debris, and construction site debris on public property or private roads.
  • Marysville Municipal Code Ch. 12.40 - Clean Condition of Public Rights-Of-Way - Requires clean up of dirt, mud, rocks, vegetation, grease, oil or other foreign material or substance to be deposited, stored, abandoned, discharged or spread on any public street, alley, sidewalk or other public right-of-way in the city - provides abatement procedures
  • Seattle Municipal Code
  • Related MRSC Pages

Obstructions in Rights-of-Way

  • Lewis County Code Ch. 8.35 - Nuisances on Highways and Rights-of-Way - Addresses structures, device or natural or artificial thing that threatens roadway or endangers persons or obstructs vehicles.
  • Spokane Municipal Code Ch. 12.02 - Obstruction, Encroachment of Public Ways - Covers vegetation, sidewalks, fences, hedges and trees as well as skywalks, underground utility vaults and other street excavation work.

Sidewalk Obstructions

Parking of Vehicles for Sale, Washing, Greasing, Repair

  • WAC 308-330-436 - Model Traffic Ordinance - Parking for certain purposes unlawful
  • Puyallup Municipal Code Ch. 10.36.030 - Park for certain purposes prohibited - same as provisions of MTO
  • Tacoma Municipal Code Ch. 11.05.564 - Parking with "for sale" sign - Tailors MTO language to Tacoma
  • Everett Do Not Park - Brochure that includes provisions of MTO
  • Related MRSC Page
    • Repair on Automobile Nuisances

Faulty Security Systems

False alarms are more than an inconvenience; they take up the time and energy of emergency personnel who may be needed to respond to a real emergency. The majority of alarm calls received by police departments are false alarms which may be avoided by proper maintenance of alarm systems and a suitable response by the property owner once the alarm has sounded. Many jurisdictions have adopted false alarm ordinances to increase awareness and accountability of alarm owners. The penalties provide an incentive for alarm owners to inspect and maintain their systems and take corrective action to prevent false alarms.

MRSC Related Page

Property from Evictions Placed on Public Property

  • RCW 59.18.312(5) - Writ of Restitution - Storage and Sale of Tenant's Property
  • Lewis County Code Sec. 1.22.040 - Removal of Evicted Personal Property and/or Solid Waste Placed onto Public Access - Provides evicted tenant 24 hour notice to remove property, after 24 hours property deemed a nuisance, landlord/property owner given 48 hours from notice to remove property or county abates nuisance
  • Kitsap County Code Sec. 9.56.090 - Removal of Personal Property and/or Solid Waste Placed onto Public Access - Similar language as Lewis county with slight variation.
  • Tacoma Municipal Code Sec. 8.30.055 - Abandoned Property in the Rights-of-Way - Covers all abandoned property on private property and public right-of-way including evictions - gives 48 hours to remove it before city abates it.

Shopping Carts

  • RCW 9A.56.270 - Shopping Cart Theft
  • Auburn Municipal Code Ch. 8.18 - Abandoned Shopping Carts - Requires shopping carts to have permanent sign identifying owner, provides method of notification of owner, provides for disposition of carts if not claimed with 14 days.
  • Bellevue Municipal Code Ch. 9.28 - Taking a Shopping Cart Without Permission - makes it a violation and provides penalties
  • Renton Municipal Code Ch. 6-27 - Shopping Cart Regulation - Requires owners who provide shopping carts to develop, implement and comply with the provisions of a written Shopping Cart Containment and Retrieval Plan approved by the City - provides exemptions.
  • Yakima Municipal Code Ch. 6.27 - Shopping Cart Regulations - Requires identification of cards, provides retrieval procedures, may require fees, and provides for disposal if not claimed within 7 days.

Last Modified: December 20, 2016