News

Keep off the grass

Junked cars

may need new rusting places

By NATHAN WHALEN

Staff reporter

People who have one or more cars rusting away in their yard may have reason to be concerned as Island County is in the early stages of developing an “inoperable vehicle ordinance.”

The county is drafting a proposal that would prohibit inoperable cars from being stored in public view on private property.

County officials say they need the ordinance to deal with complaints that residents have made concerning broken-down cars.

Jeff Tate, assistant director for the Island County Planning Department, said people complain that the junked cars are an eyesore and affect property values.

In the past, the county has used its junkyard zoning as a reason to have inoperable cars removed from private property. However, Code Enforcement Officer Matt Kukuk said that he has had trouble applying such a designation to private homes because there may be only a few abandoned cars. “It’s hard to consider that a junkyard,” Kukuk said.

Tate added that many homeowners typically aren’t storing junked cars for any commercial purposes.

Kukuk added that such complaints have been passed on to the Health Department or the Sheriff’s Office to see if there are solid waste violations or public safety hazards that could facilitate vehicle removal.

County officials hope the new ordinance will provide clarification about what constitutes a junked car and will help them deal with people’s complaints about cars.

The county is considering basing its ordinance on several cities that have enacted similar rules in recent years.

According to the Everett Municipal Code, a junked car is at least three years old, shows some kind of extensive damage such as missing wheels or broken windows, is apparently inoperable and the vehicle’s value is equal to the scrap metal contained in it.

Everett’s code does allow for junked cars to be stored inside or at a fenced-in junkyard.

People violating Everett’s junked car code may be subject to fines and be required to pay the cost of the removal of the vehicle.

Bellevue’s ordinance is similar to Everett’s but also takes into account the last time a vehicle was licensed in determining a junked car.

Kukuk said he is still researching inoperable vehicle codes and hasn’t started writing the proposed ordinance.

Tate said he hopes the ordinance will be written and ready for a public hearing by the end of the year.

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