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MRSC Insight Blog


Posts for Oskar Rey

A montage of port, truck and public transit

Unpopular but Necessary: What Exactly Is an Essential Public Facility?

What is an essential public facility under the Growth Management Act? An airport? A transit system? A homeless shelter? What facilities can be defined as essential for the public is at the heart of a recent Washington Court of Appeals case.

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A Gift? For Me? The Basics of Gifts for Municipal Officers and Employees

A Gift? For Me? The Basics of Gifts for Municipal Officers and Employees

Among many issues that municipal officials and employees should treat with caution is the acceptance of gifts — especially those given in connection with their position or duties. In addition to raising concerns about propriety, acceptance of such a gift may violate state law.

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New Ninth Circuit Ruling Addresses Anti-Camping Ordinances

New Ninth Circuit Ruling Addresses Anti-Camping Ordinances

Last month, the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision that provides clarification and guidance to local governments on camping bans and ordinances. 

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Why Are There so Many Types of Cities and Counties? A Guide to Municipal Classifications and Forms of Government

Why Are There so Many Types of Cities and Counties? A Guide to Municipal Classifications and Forms of Government

Washington State has a broad array of local governments that vary in terms of classification as well as form, and these concepts highlight the parameters under which cities, towns, and counties operate and govern.

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Church and State: U.S. Supreme Court Makes Changes to Establishment Clause Analysis

Church and State: U.S. Supreme Court Makes Changes to Establishment Clause Analysis

In light of the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Kennedy v. Bremerton School District, what can a local government do to ensure that its policies are written and applied in a manner that does not discriminate based on an employee’s religious belief?

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Speaking Versus Regulating — The Government Speech Doctrine

Speaking Versus Regulating — The Government Speech Doctrine

Government speech is analyzed differently by the courts than government regulation of the speech of others. This blog looks at government speech case law, including the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in Shurtleff v. City of Boston.

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Municipal Regulation of Residential Tenancies

Municipal Regulation of Residential Tenancies

Some cities and counties have enacted tenant protection measures to help renters adversely impacted by the state's booming real estate market. This blog looks at how the courts have ruled in terms of challenges to similar regulations instituted by the City of Seattle. 

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Technology and Open Government: Maximizing Participation and Transparency

Technology and Open Government: Maximizing Participation and Transparency

Obtaining a broad spectrum of public participation in local government meetings can be challenging. This blog looks at a few examples of the innovative tools and approaches Washington agencies are using. 

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New Ruling Addresses Adverse Possession of Public Property

New Ruling Addresses Adverse Possession of Public Property

MRSC occasionally receives inquiries on whether adverse possession applies to public property. A recent Washington Court of Appeals case, Michel v. City of Seattle, provides useful clarification of these standards.

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Seven Hills, LLC v. Chelan County: When Does a Nonconforming Use Come into Existence?

Seven Hills, LLC v. Chelan County: When Does a Nonconforming Use Come into Existence?

This blog reviews the recent state Supreme Court decision in Seven Hills LLC v. Chelan County, which looked at whether a marijuana company established its business before the county placed a moratorium on marijuana production.

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City of Seattle v. Long: Vehicle Homestead Rights and Excessive Fines

City of Seattle v. Long: Vehicle Homestead Rights and Excessive Fines

Seattle v. Long challenged long-held practices regarding parking enforcement. The Washington Supreme Court finally issued its ruling on the case, expanding the circumstances under which fines may be challenged as excessive and clarifying how homestead rights apply to vehicles. 

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State Legislature Expands Municipal Authority to Provide Broadband, but to What Extent?

State Legislature Expands Municipal Authority to Provide Broadband, but to What Extent?

This blog provides an overview of recent legislation meant to expand the availability of municipally supplied broadband in Washington. 

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Employee Bonuses and the COVID-19 Pandemic

Employee Bonuses and the COVID-19 Pandemic

This blog considers whether local governments may give bonuses to employees for working through the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The Lasting Impacts of Discriminatory Restrictive Covenants

The Lasting Impacts of Discriminatory Restrictive Covenants

This blog looks at discriminatory restrictive covenants in county real property records and how property owners may remove or "strike" them from the record. 

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A Quick Guide to Utility Account Overcharges, Undercharges, and the Statute of Limitations

A Quick Guide to Utility Account Overcharges, Undercharges, and the Statute of Limitations

This blog explores the role of the statute of limitations in connection with utility billing, including undercharges and overcharges. 

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The Right to Assemble: Responding to Protests, Spontaneous Gatherings, and Counter-Demonstrations

The Right to Assemble: Responding to Protests, Spontaneous Gatherings, and Counter-Demonstrations

This blog explores the right to assemble in connection with protests and gatherings in outdoor public places and provides thoughts on how local governments can respond to situations that may arise.

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What Constitutes a Serial Meeting under the OPMA?

What Constitutes a Serial Meeting under the OPMA?

This blog reviews what is considered a "serial" meeting under the Open Public Meetings Act and how governing bodies, now using a variety of communication options, can avoid violating the Act. 

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Washington Supreme Court Finds I-976 Unconstitutional

Washington Supreme Court Finds I-976 Unconstitutional

This blog provides a brief overview of a recent Washington Supreme Court ruling striking down I-976.

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A Refresher on the Gift of Public Funds

A Refresher on the Gift of Public Funds

This blog provides on overview of the state's prohibition on gifts of public funds for local governments and elected officials, including tips on avoiding violations of the prohibition. 

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Living in Vehicles: How Homestead Rights Affect Municipal Impounds

Living in Vehicles: How Homestead Rights Affect Municipal Impounds

This blog post suggests that local government impound procedures should be reviewed to ensure that these don't impede upon the 'homestead rights' of people living out of their vehicles. 

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New Legislation on Temporary Homeless Encampments

New Legislation on Temporary Homeless Encampments

ESHB 1754 takes effect on June 11, 2020, and imposes additional conditions on cities and counties when regulating religious organizations hosting the homeless.

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Furloughs and More: Employer Options During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Furloughs and More: Employer Options During the COVID-19 Pandemic

This blog post looks at an employer's options for managing its workforce during the region-wide shutdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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What Are Local Governments Doing in Response to <em>Martin v. City of Boise</em>?

What Are Local Governments Doing in Response to <em>Martin v. City of Boise</em>?

This blog post looks at how Washington local governments are adjusting to the 2018 ruling Martin v. City of Boise, which addressed ordinances that prohibit sleeping or camping on public property. 

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Understanding When It’s Over: Administrative Procedures and the PRA

Understanding When It’s Over: Administrative Procedures and the PRA

This blog post summarizes Kilduff v. San Juan County and suggests best practices for agency administrative procedures concerning public records searches. 

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Records Requests from Agency Elected Officials

Records Requests from Agency Elected Officials

What happens if your elected official files a public records request with your local government? This blog post looks at how to handle what should be a simple request, but often isn't due to extenuating circumstances. 

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Recent PRA Developments — Dog Days of Summer Edition

Recent PRA Developments — Dog Days of Summer Edition

This blog article covers a recent Attorney General opinion and a Washington Court of Appeals case, both of which address the Public Records Act. 

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Homelessness and the Limits of Enforcement

Homelessness and the Limits of Enforcement

This blog post looks at the legal issues involving homelessness, and how these issues can limit a municipality's response to unauthorized encampments, panhandling, and car camping. 

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Landlord/Tenant Issues for Water and Sewer Utilities

Landlord/Tenant Issues for Water and Sewer Utilities

In this blog post, we provide an overview of utility billing in the landlord/tenant context per Washington State regulations.  

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Introducing the PRA & Records Management Technology Guide!

Introducing the PRA & Records Management Technology Guide!

MRSC has partnered with the SAO Center for Government Innovation to provide local governments with information and resources for managing electronic public records, and we are proud to introduce the PRA & Management Technology Guide.

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Past Due Payments and Use of Collection Agencies

Past Due Payments and Use of Collection Agencies

This blog post provides an overview of the requirements for use of a collection agency and will address some frequently asked questions that arise when doing so. 

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Is Your Camping Ordinance Constitutional?

Is Your Camping Ordinance Constitutional?

This blog will examine the recent Ninth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals case, Martin v. City of Boise, and discuss how this ruling may impact Washington local governments. 

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Land Use and Nuisances Legislative Update

Land Use and Nuisances Legislative Update

In this blog post, Legal Consultant Oskar Rey looks at several bills passed in the last legislative session that address land use, nuisance, and code enforcement issues.

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Food Truck Laws and Regulations

Food Truck Laws and Regulations

This post sorts through applicable food truck laws and regulations and cite examples of approaches taken by Washington municipalities that regulate food trucks in their jurisdictions. 

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JLARC Unveils Public Records Reporting System

JLARC Unveils Public Records Reporting System

MRSC has received many questions about JLARC public records reporting requirements as modified by the 2017 bill ESHB 1594. This blog post looks at the reporting requirements for local governments and JLARC's newly unveiled reporting system.

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Safe Parking Programs: A Safe Place to Sleep in Your Car

Safe Parking Programs: A Safe Place to Sleep in Your Car

In light of a recent Superior Court ruling, safe parking programs, often sponsored by religious organizations, can offer relief for individuals living in vehicles. Legal Consultant Oskar Rey examines the regulatory role of local government when a religious organization seeks to establish a safe parking program.

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OPMA and PRA Training Requirements for Government Officials

OPMA and PRA Training Requirements for Government Officials

This blog post will provide an overview of the OPMA and PRA training requirements for local government officials
and provide resources to obtain training. 

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 Understanding Municipal Rights-of-Way: From Centerline to Edge (Part 3)

Understanding Municipal Rights-of-Way: From Centerline to Edge (Part 3)

In Part 3 of Legal Consultant Oskar Rey's series on municipal rights-of-way, he looks at utilities, franchises, small cell facilities, and right-of-way use permits. 

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Understanding Municipal Rights-of-Way: From Centerline to Edge (Part 2)

Understanding Municipal Rights-of-Way: From Centerline to Edge (Part 2)

In the second of three posts on understanding municipal rights-of-way, Legal Consultant Oskar Rey discusses sidewalks, street trees, and the areas near the outer edge of the right-of-way. 

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Understanding Municipal Rights-of-Way: From Centerline to Edge (Part 1)

Understanding Municipal Rights-of-Way: From Centerline to Edge (Part 1)

MRSC gets a lot of inquiries about street rights-of-way. In this multi-part series, we cover the fundamentals of rights-of-way and the duties of local government and abutting owners.

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Political Speech and Lobbying by Local Government Employees: What are the Rules of Engagement?

Political Speech and Lobbying by Local Government Employees: What are the Rules of Engagement?

There is a lot going on in politics these days at all levels of government. Wherever you fall on the political spectrum, it is important for government employees to know the rules of engagement. While everyone has First Amendment rights, there are certain restrictions on speech and lobbying that apply to employees of local public agencies. This blog post provides an overview of these restrictions. 

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Does Your Code Provide Homelessness Solutions?

Does Your Code Provide Homelessness Solutions?

There are a lot of policy options for alleviating homelessness and the lack of affordable housing. However, in some jurisdictions, existing codes can present unintended barriers to providing remedies for homelessness. This blog will summarize a few common issues that can arise.

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What Can Be Done about “Zombie” Properties?

What Can Be Done about “Zombie” Properties?

The Washington Supreme Court's decision in Jordan v. Nationstar Mortgage LLC significantly impacts the ability of local government to take action with respect to vacant or "zombie" properties. This blog post discusses this impact as well as some options for addressing zombie properties.

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Addressing Religious Speech in the Workplace

Addressing Religious Speech in the Workplace

Local governments face challenges balancing the rights of employees and officials to express their religious views with the agencies' constitutional and statutory legal constraints. A recent court decision, Sprague v. Spokane Valley Fire Department, addressed this issue.

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