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City's code enforcement is a total mess


October 11, 2017

"Welcome to Goldendale!" Well, it actually didn't say that; it said instead, "You owe the City of Goldendale $25 for parking your unattached trailer on the street." Never mind that it was otherwise legally parked, had been in that position under 48 hours, and was both legally and currently registered, in good working order, and was not blocking any traffic. Never mind that the ticket was attached very late at night or very early in the morning, as the trailer was observed by the owner the prior night at 10:30 p.m. and the ticket was found at 6:30 a.m. the following day. Never mind that three families had been working 14 to 16 hours a day for two weeks to rehabilitate the house it was obviously parked at that had stood vacant for four years or more, recovering a prior blight in the neighborhood that had potentially posed a risk to the city and its citizens, having been unoccupied and unwatched for that prior period.

Upon looking at the webpage that the city maintains, we see that the code compliance officer appears to be a bit over-zealous in issuing a ticket without any attempt to contact the occupants of the house. There wasn't a warning ticket. Instead it was just a "Slam, here's your ticket, buddy, for parking your trailer on the street." Further, it appears that it was an arbitrary action, since this eight-foot trailer was there less than two days, while nearby, on Broadway, a goose-neck trailer sat all summer, unattached and actively for sale. Just up Main Street, we see three unregistered vehicles, obviously not used for months, tires going flat. They're constipating a narrow street and being used for storage (tell me, is this within code compliance?). According to MC 8.45.060 C, D, E, F, and G, within the bounds of Railroad Avenue, Washington, Columbus and Broadway, is the code being applied even-handedly? It appears decidedly not, with vehicles sitting parked on the road so long that the weeds are as high as the cars, many yards with massive weeds, piles of junk, inoperable vehicles in plain sight (violation of the code), and homes for tens of thousands of cockroaches and silverfish as well as thousands of mice, not to mention feral cats and who knows what else in the mounds of detritus stacked around many yards and on many porches.

Does the code apply to the old mill and yard bound by Darland and Railroad? According to a strict interpretation of the code, it is a junk yard, and no attempt to clear it out or hide the blight has ever been attempted in the six-plus years I have lived here. Frankly, the city yard on Railroad could use both slats in its fencing, and a significant amount of weed abatement is needed as well. If you are going to apply strict and "sudden death" tickets to obviously recently moved, operable vehicles, doesn't it seem appropriate to actually do the office of code compliance officer properly and ticket the 40 or 50 violations one can see in just a cursory look around in the one quadrant of the city?

Perhaps if the city paid as much attention and diligence to even-handedly applying the code to the actual and genuine blight and decay in the city instead of harassing a new citizen and his family-who are making a positive difference-we all could take a little more pride in the outcome as a whole. City of Goldendale: you owe the homeowner a refund and apology for the unfair and capricious application of the ticket.

Darrell Smith



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