New building, fire codes mean city can push owners to clean up property

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City of Mountlake Terrace officials will now have more authority to require property owners to repair privately-owned buildings that show signs of deterioration and decay after new building codes were approved by the City Council on June 17.

The council voted 7-0 to update city building and fire codes that mirror recently revised International Code Council and State of Washington codes. The city updates go into effect on July 1.

The council approved language adopted from the International Property Maintenance Code that gives city officials authority to notify owners of private houses or commercial buildings that are “clearly deteriorated” to correct the building’s condition. Previous city code restricted the city’s involvement unless the property was deemed “dangerous.”

Mayor Jerry Smith welcomed the city’s new authority to push owners of deteriorating buildings, especially those damaged by fire, to address the clean-up of their properties. “We’ve had numerous ones where they have sat for five or six years,” Smith said.

“We do have mechanisms involved through code enforcement that help the process along and encourage the old burnt-out derelicts to come down and new construction to come up,” pointed out Fire District 1 Fire Marshall John Westfall. “The situation of the derelict, (the new code) helps the process along by moving the enforcement quicker.”

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