Puyallup Herald

Puyallup passes stricter regulations for ‘chronic nuisance’ properties

Puyallup is increasing its efforts to crack down on properties and businesses creating nuisances in the city.

City Council passed an ordinance Tuesday adding “chronic nuisance” property provisions to the municipal code. It increases fines and includes suspension of business licenses for worst cases.

“For some time, police and code enforcement have been looking for better ways to address nuisance activity in the city,” said Joe Beck, attorney for the city.

According to the ordinance, a property is considered a chronic nuisance if:

  • It has had three or more major nuisance activities or five or more minor nuisance activities on the property or within 200 feet of the property within a 90-day period, or

  • The property has had five or more major nuisance activities or eight or more minor nuisance activities on the property or within 200 feet of the property within a 365-day period.

Major nuisances include drug-related activity, prostitution, gang-related offenses, assault and indecent exposure.

Minor nuisances include opening or consuming liquor or marijuana in a public place, allowing unsanitary conditions, impairment of streets and sidewalks and noise disturbances.

The city will attempt to work with people whose property is declared a nuisance.

“Voluntary compliance is the approach that is first and foremost,” Beck said.

If the property owner agrees to a course of action to eliminate the nuisance activity, a written correction agreement is created.

If another nuisance occurs within 45 days, the city can:

  • Amend the correction agreement

  • Issue a $250 fine

  • Suspend or revoke the business license of the person in charge

  • Refer the matter for abatement by the city and assessment of costs

When asked if the city has seen an increase in nuisance properties in recent years, Beck said that rental properties have been of some concern but that the provisions apply to properties and businesses equally across city limits.

Parts of Puyallup’s nuisance code haven’t been updated since the 1950s. Pieces were updated in 1997.

The new code is similar to nuisance property efforts taken by Pierce County and the city of Tacoma, Beck said.