Council learns about MLT’s abatement process for nuisance properties

Sgt. Porter discusses the city’s abatement enforcement laws with the council.

The Mountlake Terrace City Council at its Monday, May 15, business meeting received a report from Police Sgt. Matt Porter regarding the city’s code enforcement abatement laws.

An abatement notice is issued by an enforcement officer to a resident to remove a public nuisance, such as excessive garbage or rundown vehicles on a property, Porter explained.

“Today I’m not going to talk about building codes or fire codes or business code violations; just nuisance properties,” he said.

The sergeant said there are multiple ways a person can complain about a nuisance property: Online, over the phone, in person at the police station or by informing an officer about something they see out in public.

“Our goal is to make contact within 24 hours [of the complaint], if not right on the spot,” he said. “And that is generally the case.”

The first contact with the owner of a nuisance property is considered a verbal warning, Porter said. After that, officers will follow up with the owner one week later to see if compliance has begun. The property doesn’t necessarily need to be completely cleaned by that point, but some kind of progress must be visible to officers, he added.

“In 85% of the cases we took in 2022, we got compliance at this level,” Porter said, “so it was not necessary to go anywhere beyond that.”

However, if officers do not see any improvements, the owner will receive a written warning that outlines the code violations they are committing. Property owners have 30 days after the initial written warning to clean up the property. After that, they receive a final written warning, which states that daily civil penalties of $700 will be imposed until the property is cleaned up.

“In 2022, all but one case was closed at this level without the need to go to abatement,” Porter said.
If progress is still not made on the property’s appearance, a misdemeanor charge is issued and an abatement date is set for officers to remove the nuisance items from the property.

The property owners incur all costs associated with this abatement action.

Porter said that so far in 2023, two properties are already in the abatement stage. One parcel of land has been abated while the other is scheduled to be cleaned up in the next 30 days if no compliance is seen.

In other business, the council read multiple proclamations for individual days and weeks as well as the entire month of May. May 15 was proclaimed as Law Enforcement Memorial Day and the week of May 21-27 as National Public Works Day. Additionally, the entire month of May was proclaimed as Asian American Pacific Islander Month, Arts Education Month and Mental Health Awareness Month in the City of Mountlake Terrace.

— By Lauren Reichenbach

  1. I am a long-time resident and daily drive by several homes that are so obviously fall into the nuisance property category yet I see no progress. Then there are the homes where cars are park haphazardly all over the “lawn” which I have been told is not permitted. I am not doubting that the property owners have been contacted by our police but wonder if there is really the follow-through that there is purported to be taking place?

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