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What must applicants for funding from the lodging tax include in their applications to the LTAC?
Reviewed: 08/16

In accordance with RCW 67.28.1816(2), applicants for lodging tax funding must submit their applications to the LTAC in cities, towns, or counties with more than 5,000 in population. The application must include the following information:

Estimates of how any moneys received will result in increases in the number of people traveling for business or pleasure on a trip:
(i) Away from their place of residence or business and staying overnight in paid accommodations;
(ii) To a place fifty miles or more one way from their place of residence or business for the day or staying overnight; or
(iii) From another country or state outside of their place of residence or their business.

The LTAC then reviews the applications, selects the candidates for funding from the applicants, and provides a list of the candidates and recommended amounts of funding to the legislative body of the city, town, or county. Based on RCW 67.28.1817(2), there must be a 45-day time period between submission of the application to the LTAC and when the city, town, or county legislative body can take final action on or passage of the proposal.

A post-event report must also be submitted by those awarded funding evaluating the actual benefits from the estimated benefits in the application.

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Does a project have to be included in the transportation plan element of a city, town, or county's comprehensive plan in order to be funded by a transportation benefit district (TBD)?
Reviewed: 08/16

Not necessarily. To be paid for with TBD funds, a project within the district must be contained in the transportation plan of the state, a regional transportation planning organization, or a city, county, port district, county transportation authority, or public transportation benefit area.

Under RCW 36.73.020(1), a TBD may only be established (emphasis added):

for the purpose of acquiring, constructing, improving, providing, and funding a transportation improvement within the district that is consistent with any existing state, regional, or local transportation plans . . .

And RCW 36.73.015(6) similarly defines "transportation improvement" to mean:

A project contained in the transportation plan of the state, a regional transportation planning organization, city, county, or eligible jurisdiction as identified in RCW 36.73.020(2) [i.e. port district, county transportation authority, and public transportation benefit area].

One such "transportation plan" would be the transportation plan element of a city, town, or county's comprehensive plan, given its predominance as the jurisdiction's "blueprint" for future transportation planning.

This analysis is the same even for a jurisdiction that has assumed its transportation benefit district pursuant to chapter 36.74 RCW.

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Is an employee entitled to an additional 12 weeks of leave for the birth of her second child if it occurs within the same 12 months as the birth of her first child (for which she took 12 weeks of leave)?
Reviewed: 08/16

The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) entitles employees to only one 12-week period of leave during any 12-month period, regardless of how many qualifying events there are. So, if she has already used her 12 weeks of leave for the current 12-month period, she can't use more FMLA leave during that same 12 months. She will have to wait until the next 12-month leave commences before being eligible for more FMLA leave.

29 CFR §825.200(a) states:

(a) Except in the case of leave to care for a covered servicemember with a serious injury or illness, an eligible employee's FMLA leave entitlement is limited to a total of 12 workweeks of leave during any 12-month period for any one, or more, of the following reasons:

  1. The birth of the employee's son or daughter, and to care for the newborn child;
  2. The placement with the employee of a son or daughter for adoption or foster care, and to care for the newly placed child;
  3. To care for the employee's spouse, son, daughter, or parent with a serious health condition;
  4. Because of a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform one or more of the essential functions of his or her job; and,
  5. Because of any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that the employee's spouse, son, daughter, or parent is a military member on covered active duty status (or has been notified of an impending call or order to covered active duty).

(Emphasis added.)

There are options for how an agency measures the 12-month FMLA leave. Note, the 12-month measurement period has to be the same for all employees. You can measure it by: (1) calendar year; (2) a fixed 12-month period; (3) the 12-month period measured forward; (4) the 12-month period measured backward.  This US Department of Labor Fact sheet on measuring the 12-month period details the various options.

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Must employees be required to take a 30-minute lunch break if they work an eight-hour shift?

Reviewed: 08/16

You have inquired whether there is a requirement that employees take a lunch break or whether they can decide to skip lunch and then leave early.

A state regulation, WAC 296-126-092, states that employers, including public employers, must allow employees a meal period of at least 30 minutes, to begin between two and five hours after the beginning of a shift. So, under this regulation, an employer cannot require that employees work without a lunch break.

However, RCW 49.12.187 allows employees, individually or through collective bargaining, to enter into "employment agreements that specifically vary from or supersede, in part or in total, rules adopted under this chapter regarding appropriate rest and meal periods." So, employees may voluntarily choose to combine their meal and rest periods, or even forego a meal period, as long as the employer consents.

We recommend that any such agreement be in writing and state that the employee has voluntarily agreed, pursuant to RCW 49.12.187, to deviate from the 30-minute lunch break period described in WAC 296-126-092, to allow the employee to shorten his or her work day by 30 minutes. 

Note that an employer is not obligated to enter into such an agreement with employees, as it may not be an advantageous arrangement for the employer.

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Can the city council award more money to an applicant than the Lodging Tax Advisory Committee (LTAC) recommends?
Reviewed: 07/16

No, a city, town, or county legislative body cannot award more funding to an applicant than the lodging tax advisory committee recommends. The relevant statute, RCW 67.28.1816(2)(b)(ii), states as follows (emphasis added):

The local lodging tax advisory committee must select the candidates from amongst the applicants applying for use of revenues in this chapter and provide a list of such candidates and recommended amounts of funding to the municipality for final determination. The municipality may choose only recipients from the list of candidates and recommended amounts provided by the local lodging tax advisory committee.

Therefore, if a city, town, or county legislative body chooses to award funding to a particular recipient, that award is limited to the amount of funding recommended by the LTAC.

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Can the city council submit any question to the voters by ballot proposition, without first receiving an initiative petition from voters?
Reviewed: 07/16

The state statutes do not, in general, provide any process for or authorize a city council itself to place an issue on the ballot, although we have opined that a city council may place a non-binding advisory measure on the ballot to gauge voter sentiment about an issue. Nor do the statutes regarding initiatives and referenda provide a process for the council to start the process leading to a ballot measure. Both the initiative and referendum procedures require that a petition be filed by the voters to initiate the process.

Of course, some statutes authorize or require that a city council to submit a specific proposition to the voters for their approval, such as certain annexations and tax increases. For other issues, where the decision-making authority resides with the city council, the council does not, in our opinion, have the authority to side-step the process and make the voters into the decision-makers.

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Since labor negotiations are exempt from the Open Public Meetings Act, may approval of a collective bargaining agreement occur in a closed meeting?
Reviewed: 07/16

No. It is true that collective bargaining and developing a strategy for the bargaining can occur in a closed meeting; meetings to consider such matters are exempt from the Open Public Meetings Act (RCW 42.30.140(4)). However, actual approval of the contract must occur in a meeting open to the public. The approval of the contract would need to be listed on the board's agenda for consideration at either at a regular or special meeting.

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How should sessions to discuss labor negotiations be handled for Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA) purposes?
Reviewed: 07/16

RCW 42.30.140(4) provides that the OPMA "shall not apply to":

(4)(a) Collective bargaining sessions with employee organizations, including contract negotiations, grievance meetings, and discussions relating to the interpretation or application of a labor agreement; or (b) that portion of a meeting during which the governing body is planning or adopting the strategy or position to be taken by the governing body during the course of any collective bargaining, professional negotiations, or grievance or mediation proceedings, or reviewing the proposals made in the negotiations or proceedings while in progress.

(Emphasis added.) The above section lists exemptions from the Open Public Meetings Act, including sessions to discuss or plan the district's plans for collective bargaining sessions. Since this is an exemption, it takes such sessions out of the Open Public Meetings Act altogether. There is no requirement that the public be allowed to attend, and there is no requirement that notice be given of the session. A session to discuss labor negotiations is similar to an executive session in that the public does not have the right to attend, but it is different than an executive session because none of the other provisions of the OPMA apply.

So, the district may conduct these sessions in private. The sessions could occur over the telephone (for example, if negotiations are continuing and your negotiator needs to know whether the commissioners would be willing to increase the salary X percent in order to finish the negotiations). The session could take place at the district's regular meeting place, but it could be held elsewhere, if it is more convenient. If the session occurs before or after a regular or special meeting, we suggest that the meeting agenda indicate that there will be a "closed session" to discuss collective bargaining strategy - so that the public knows what is going on.

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Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and state law, can overtime pay for nonexempt salaried employees be applied as compensatory time (at time and a half) if that is stated in the agency's policy manual, or does it have to be paid out? Is this the same for nonexempt hourly paid employees?
Reviewed: 07/16

The FLSA, specifically 29 U.S.C. Sec. 207(o), and FLSA regulations (see, e.g., 29 C.F.R. Sec. 553.22, .23, .25, .27, .28, and .50) address the use of comp time under federal law. Under these laws and regulations, a public agency may provide for comp time to its employees as long as comp time is provided for under a collective bargaining agreement, employment agreement, or memorandum of understanding. The agreement can be made in one of three ways: through negotiation with individual employees; through negotiation with employees' representatives; or through negotiation with a recognized collective bargaining agent.

Comp time under state law is governed by RCW 49.46.130(2)(b), which exempts from overtime pay requirements "[e]mployees who request compensating time off in lieu of overtime pay." A related administrative regulation, WAC 296-128-560, provides:

The provisions of chapter 49.46 RCW requiring one and one-half times the regular rate of pay for hours worked in excess of 40 per week does not apply to any person who requests compensating time off in lieu of overtime pay. Therefore, compensating time may be as agreed upon by the employer and the individual employee at the request of the employee, but may not be imposed by the employer in lieu of overtime pay upon any employee who has not so requested such compensating time off.

So, under RCW 49.46.130(2)(b) and WAC 296-128-560 and consistent with federal law, a public employer and employee may agree on comp time in lieu of overtime pay at the request of the employee. As such, the agency can have a policy that allows the employee to request comp time in lieu of overtime pay, but the agency cannot unilaterally decide that an employee must take comp time in lieu of overtime pay.

Also of interest on this topic, more generally, may be our MRSC Insight blog post Overtime 101.

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Could I send an email of relevance to water-sewer district business to the other commissioners for information purposes only? I had the first line of the email clearly state: "For informational purposes only, please do not reply."
Reviewed: 07/16

It is not a violation of the Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA) for you to send this email for informational purposes only to the other commissioners. If they only passively receive the information, there is no violation. See, e.g., Wood v. Battle Ground School District, 107 Wn. App. 550 (2001). However, if just one of the other two commissioners responds to the email, then it could be deemed a violation of the OPMA because there would have been action taken (a discussion of district business) by a quorum of the board of commissioners outside of a meeting open to the public. We recommend just what you are doing - clearly state that the other commissioners should not reply to your email.

MRSC developed a handy tip sheet on how to avoid OPMA violations when sending email. One other thing we recommend is having a staff member send the email on your behalf so if a commissioner responds, it would not constitute a meeting because none of the other commissioners would be a recipient of the response (assuming the staff member doesn't forward the response!).

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With respect to annual financial report requirements, are we required to identify restricted and unrestricted fund balances for fiduciary funds?
Reviewed: 07/16

No. Fiduciary funds are, by definition, funds that belong to others (see BARS, Fund Types and Accounting Principles). Fiduciary funds are described in the "cash basis" BARS manual as follows:

Fiduciary Funds - should be used to account for assets held by a government in a trustee capacity or as an agent for individuals, private organizations, other governmental units, and/or other funds. These include (a) investment trust funds, (b) pension (and other employee benefit) trust funds, (c) private-purpose trust funds, and (d) agency funds.

The application and classification of fund balance is a result of the implementation of GASB 54 to both GAAP and Cash Basis accounting and reporting entities by the State Auditor's Office (SAO) through its BARS manuals. GASB 54 provides for fund balance classifications of "governmental" funds, which are the general, special, debt, capital, and permanent fund classifications. The SAO has extended this fund balance classification to the "proprietary" funds for cash basis entities (GAAP was already designating fund balance by class).

As a bit of further explanation, all fiduciary funds, in theory, are restricted to the extent that the funds belong to others, but, for accounting purposes, there are no requirements to designate them as restricted funds, because GASB and/or BARS requirements apply only to governmental and proprietary funds.

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Can the council endorse a ballot measure supporting a sales tax increase?
Reviewed: 06/16

The statute that applies to your question is RCW 42.17A.555. Although that statute generally prohibits the use of public facilities to support a ballot proposition, it provides an exception that allows a city council, as well as other elected bodies, to vote to take a collective position supporting or opposing a ballot proposition. The agenda for the meeting in which the vote would take place must include the title and number of the ballot proposition, and any member of the public must be given an approximately equal opportunity to speak in opposition.

The Public Disclosure Commission has an informative guide on this and other issues involving the prohibition in RCW 42.17A.555: Guidelines for Local Government Agencies in Election Campaigns.

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Request for examples of regulations dealing with portable mobile cellular sites called "Cells on Wheels," which provide temporary network and wireless coverage, usually via vehicles such as trailers, vans, and trucks.
Reviewed: 06/16

The following code provisions provide a range of approaches for the regulation of temporary wireless communication facilities:

  • Edmonds Municipal Code, Chapter 20.50 - Wireless Communication Facilities, Section 20.50.120 - Temporary Facilities - appears to be focused on emergency use.
  • Federal Way Municipal Code, Chapter 19.255 Personal Wireless Service Facilities, Section 19.255.040 - Temporary Personal Wireless Service Facilities - authorizes community development director to allow cells on wheels facilities under certain circumstances.
  • Kent Municipal Code, Chapter 15.08 - General and Supplementary Provisions, Section 15.08.035 - Wireless Telecommunications Facilities - exempted from the WTF provisions and allowed in all zones for up to 30 days, unless there is an emergency or the time is extended by planning manager (see subsection (D)(5)).
  • Phoenix Municipal Code, Chapter 7- Development Standards of General Applicability, Section 715 - Satellite Earth Stations and Wireless Communication Facilities, Subsection (B)(6) - Standards for the Use of "Cell on Wheels" (COWS) Apparatus" - requires a Temporary Use Permit and adherence to listed standards.

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Does state law dictate how many months behind in paying the water bill a utility customer must be before the city can shut off the water?
Reviewed: 06/16

State law does not set out how many months delinquent a resident must be before water service can be terminated for nonpayment. That is up to the city's policy.

The language of RCW 35.21.290 and RCW 35.21.300(1) can confuse things here. The former statute establishes a "lien" for the last four months of water charges due. The latter statute provides that this lien (not a true lien) may be enforced only by shutting off utility service "until the delinquent and unpaid charges are paid." We interpret this to mean that the city can exercise the option of shutting off service only for the last four months charges, because that's all the lien is for. Thus, service must be restored once those last four months changes are paid, even if the delinquency is for more than that. The rest of the bill is still a debt owed the city, but the city loses the shut-off option to enforce collection for those charges more than four months past due. Though, for any new charges, the city retains the option of shutting off service to enforce collection of those new charges.

Therefore, we advise not to let the debt owed for water service exceed four months before terminating water service. The city's water utility policy should identify when it will exercise the shut-off option.

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What reasonable accommodations must be made for persons with a disability (hearing impaired in this case) who want to attend a public meeting?
Reviewed: 06/16

ADA regulations, specifically 28 CFR § 35.160(b), provide:

(1) A public entity shall furnish appropriate auxiliary aids and services where necessary to afford individuals with disabilities, including applicants, participants, companions, and members of the public, an equal opportunity to participate in, and enjoy the benefits of, a service, program, or activity of a public entity.
(2) The type of auxiliary aid or service necessary to ensure effective communication will vary in accordance with the method of communication used by the individual; the nature, length, and complexity of the communication involved; and the context in which the communication is taking place. In determining what types of auxiliary aids and services are necessary, a public entity shall give primary consideration to the requests of individuals with disabilities. In order to be effective, auxiliary aids and services must be provided in accessible formats, in a timely manner, and in such a way as to protect the privacy and independence of the individual with a disability.

According to the Department of Justice's Title II Technical Assistance Manual, at II-7.1100:

It is important to consult with the individual to determine the most appropriate auxiliary aid or service, because the individual with a disability is most familiar with his or her disability and is in the best position to determine what type of aid or service will be effective.

See, also, General Effective Communication Requirements Under Title II of the ADA, Chapter 3 of the ADA Best Practices Tool Kit for State and Local Governments (2009).

So, a public agency should be prepared to accommodate a hearing impaired person attending its meetings. The best practice is to consult with the individual to determine how best to provide the accommodation. For example, it may be that providing a sign language interpreter would be a reasonable accommodation in this situation.

Jurisdictions should provide notice about ADA accommodation availability. 28 CFR § 35.163(a) states:

A public entity shall ensure that interested persons, including persons with impaired vision or hearing, can obtain information as to the existence and location of accessible services, activities, and facilities.

For public meetings, such notice could be provided in published notices/agendas of upcoming meetings. For example, see this notice on the agenda for a City of Bellevue council meeting (bottom of first page) and a similar notice on the agenda for a City of Battle Ground council meeting (bottom of second page).

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Whether records reflecting an employee's education and experience are exempt from public disclosure.
Reviewed: 05/16

Applications for public employment, including resumes, cover letters, and letters of recommendation, are exempt from disclosure under RCW 42.56.250(2), so you would not be required to provide those records to the requestor.

Information regarding an employee's education and experience that is not contained within such application materials is not exempt from disclosure.

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What makes an employee an exempt employee vs. non-exempt? Must exempt employees have staff under them or can they have no one reporting to them and still be exempt?
Reviewed: 05/16

Regarding the factors that are considered in distinguishing between an exempt vs. a non-exempt employee, Overtime 101, an MRSC blog post provides a good summary on that issue.

Regarding your second question, a determination related to whether an exempt employee must supervise staff to be exempt depends on the exempt employee category at issue. For example, as explained in our blog post referenced above (emphasis in original):

Each exempt category of employment has its own duties test; for example, to qualify as exempt, an executive employee's primary duty must be managing the organization, or managing a customarily recognized department or subdivision of the organization. 29 CFR 541.100. (FLSA regulations discuss what is meant by "primary duty" (29 CFR 541.700) and give examples of what may be considered to be "management" duties (29 CFR 541.102).) The executive must customarily and regularly direct the work of at least two or more other full-time employees or their equivalent and have the authority to hire or fire other employees, or the executive employee’s suggestions and recommendations as to the hiring, firing, advancement, promotion, or any other change of status of other employees must be given particular weight. (See 29 CFR 541.105 for an explanation of what is meant by "particular weight.")

An administrative employee is exempt if the employee’s primary function is to perform office or non-manual work, directly related to the management or general business operations of the employer or the employer’s customers, that includes the exercise of discretion and independent judgment with respect to matters of significance. 29 CFR 541.200. FLSA regulations provide guidance as to what is meant by "directly related to the management or general business operations"(29 CFR 541.201), "discretion and independent judgment" (29 CFR 541.202), and give examples of the administrative exemption (29 CFR 541.203).

The new FLSA regulations that revise the salary level to qualify as an exempt employee and that take effect on December 1, 2016 do not affect the duties test. See New Overtime Rule Issued for White Collar Workers (5/23/2016).

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Does the city (or its residents by way of ballot) have the option to add a fee or tax to the motor vehicle fuel tax to fuel sales within its boundaries?
Reviewed: 05/16

No, the city does not have the authority to add a fee or tax to the motor vehicle fuel tax with respect to fuel sales within its boundaries. RCW 82.36.440(1), effective until July 1, 2016, states:

The tax levied in this chapter is in lieu of any excise, privilege, or occupational tax upon the business of manufacturing, selling, or distributing motor vehicle fuel, and no city, town, county, township or other subdivision or municipal corporation of the state may levy or collect any excise tax upon or measured by the sale, receipt, distribution, or use of motor vehicle fuel, except as provided in chapter 82.80 RCW and RCW 82.47.020.

Effective on July 1, 2016 (after consolidation of the motor vehicle fuel tax and special fuel tax statutes), RCW 82.38.280(1) states basically the same thing:

The tax levied in this chapter is in lieu of any excise, privilege, or occupational tax upon the business of manufacturing, selling, or distributing fuel, and no city, town, county, township or other subdivision or municipal corporation of the state may levy or collect any excise tax upon or measured by the sale, receipt, distribution, or use of fuel, except as provided in chapter 82.80 RCW and RCW 82.47.020.

(Concerning the statutes referred to as exceptions in the above statutes, RCW 82.20.010 authorizes a local option gas tax, but that can only be levied by the county and it applies countywide (at a rate equal to 10 percent of the state rate). RCW 82.47.020 authorizes cities located no more than 10 miles from an international border to levy an additional one cent per gallon gas tax with voter approval to mitigate the effects of tourism on their streets.)

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When does the city real estate excise tax (REET) apply in an annexed area?

Reviewed: 05/16

The city's REET applies to any real property sold within an annexed area beginning on the effective date of the annexation. The REET - which, as the name clearly states, is an excise tax and not a property tax - is on "each sale of real property in the unincorporated areas of the county for the county tax and in the corporate limits of the city for the city tax . . . ." RCW 82.46.010(2)(a); RCW 82.46.035(2). Upon the effective date of an annexation, the corporate limits of the city include the area annexed.

There is no statutory connection between the REET, which is governed by chapter 82.46 RCW, and the property tax, which is governed by Title 84 RCW. RCW 84.09.030, which sets when "the boundaries of counties, cities, and all other taxing districts shall be the established official boundaries of such districts" applies only "for the purposes of property taxation and the levy of property taxes." That provision has no application to the REET.

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May a local government provide in its personnel policies that accrued vacation leave will be paid off at the time of termination or retirement unless the termination is for cause, in which case no vacation payout will be made?
Reviewed: 05/16

Yes, a local government does have this authority. There are no provisions in state law that mandate what the terms of a vacation policy are for a local government. However, a local government's personnel policies should clearly spell out the terms under which vacation is granted, including those related to vacation payout at the time of termination.  

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Does the city have to pay for the cost of indigent defense for an appeal to the superior court of a municipal court's conviction?
Reviewed: 05/16

The city is not responsible for public defense for criminal appeals to the court of appeals or the Supreme Court; the state is responsible for those costs. RCW 4.88.330. Unfortunately for local governments, this statute does not apply to appeals from municipal court to superior court. The Washington State Supreme Court made this point clear in Kitsap County v. Moore, 144 Wn.2d 292 (2001). In Moore, Kitsap County and Bremerton contended that the cost of indigent misdemeanant appeals, including attorney fees and costs, for appeals from municipal/district court to superior court was the state's responsibility to pay under RCW 4.88.330. After construing the statute, court rules and legislative history, the court rejected this argument and concluded that the local jurisdiction (cities or counties) is responsible for the costs of indigent misdemeanant appeals to superior courts.

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Request for information about dealing with blighted/poor maintained/abandoned properties
Reviewed: 05/16

The procedures in RCW 35.80.030 are available to deal with situations in which "one or more conditions of the character described in RCW 35.80.010 exist"; those conditions are:

dwellings which are unfit for human habitation, and buildings, structures, and premises or portions thereof which are unfit for other uses due to dilapidation, disrepair, structural defects, defects increasing the hazards of fire, accidents, or other calamities, inadequate ventilation and uncleanliness, inadequate light or sanitary facilities, inadequate drainage, overcrowding, or due to other conditions which are inimical to the health and welfare of the residents of such municipalities and counties.

One advantage of using the procedures in RCW 35.80.030 is the method of cost recovery provided in subsection (h) that statute where the property owner does not abate a dangerous structure and the city must do so, the assessment for which can be entered upon the tax rolls against the property for the current year and the same shall become a part of the general taxes for that year to be collected at the same time and with interest at such rates and in such manner as provided for in RCW 84.56.020 for delinquent taxes, and when collected to be deposited to the credit of the general fund of the municipality.

Another available tool that some cities have adopted is the Uniform Code for the Abatement of Dangerous Buildings (1997), the stated purpose of which is to address "buildings or structures which from any cause endanger the life, limb, health, morals, property, safety or welfare of the general public or their occupants may be required to be repaired, vacated or demolished." See Sec. 102.1.

Then there is also the International Property Maintenance Code (2012), adopted by some jurisdictions (e.g., Longview), to provide:

minimum requirements and standards for premises, structures, equipment and facilities for light, ventilation, space, heating, sanitation, protection from the elements, life safety, safety from fire and other hazards, and for safe and sanitary maintenance; the responsibility of owners, operators and occupants; the occupancy of existing structures and premises and for administration, enforcement and penalties.

Sec. 101.2.

Our Building Nuisances webpage has examples of ordinances adopting one or the other of these provisions or establishing their own procedures for addressing these issues of blighted/poor maintained/abandoned properties. See also our Community Renewal Law webpage.

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Does an environmental impact statement (EIS) expire?
Reviewed: 04/16

There is no expiration period for an EIS. However, there likely are expiration periods for project permit applications for which an EIS was prepared; a new application for a previously proposed but not acted upon project triggers new environmental review. DOE's SEPA Handbook (rev. 2004), addresses environmental review in this circumstance:

SEPA documents do not have expiration dates. After SEPA is completed, if a proposal is delayed so that new permits must be applied for, environmental review may be limited to verifying that there is no new information, regulatory changes, or changes to the proposal that would require additional review. (This is true even if the applicant has changed.) As long as there are no changes to be addressed, no additional paperwork is required and agencies may proceed with permit decisions.

See WAC 197-11-600 , which addresses the use of existing environmental documents.

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Do you have guidelines for a majority of city councilmembers traveling together?
Reviewed: 04/16

First, there is a specific statutory provision that allows a majority (or more) of the city council to travel together so long as there is no discussion of city business amongst them. RCW 42.30.070 states in part:

(It shall not be a violation of the requirements of this chapter for a majority of the members of a governing body to travel together or gather for purposes other than a regular meeting or a special meeting as these terms are used in this chapter: PROVIDED, That they take no action as defined in this chapter.

Note that "action" is defined in RCW 42.30.020(3) to include discussion of city business:

(3) "Action" means the transaction of the official business of a public agency by a governing body including but not limited to receipt of public testimony, deliberations, discussions, considerations, reviews, evaluations, and final actions.

The above restrictions apply when a quorum of the council travels together, such as, for example, to Washington D.C. to meet with Congressional representatives, or to a meeting held by another agency. For a seven-member city council, four councilmembers constitutes a quorum, so two or three councilmembers can travel together and discuss city affairs without any OPMA implications.

Councilmembers should avoid during their trip any conversation regarding city business that is done when a quorum is present (even if only two members are speaking), and the council should avoid any serial conversations on a city issue that would result in the participation in that conversation of a quorum of the council.

At the last meeting prior to the council trip, it might be wise to have the city attorney (if present at the meeting) or the mayor remind the councilmembers of the OPMA restrictions on discussions of city business by a quorum outside of an open public meeting. That lets the public know that the council is aware of the OPMA restrictions. Keep in mind, however, that some members of the public may nevertheless be distrustful of council compliance with the OPMA when a majority of more of the council travel together.

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Request for ordinances from smaller cities regulating accessory dwelling units (ADUs).
Reviewed: 04/16

Listed below are examples of ADU provisions from smaller-sized communities: See the following additional materials regarding ADUs:

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