North County Outlook - Community newspaper serving Marysville, Arlington, Tulalip, Smokey Point, Lakewood

Marysville law focuses on junk in yards

 


Marysville officials hope an update to the city’s Public Nuisances ordinance will help clean up some neighborhoods where homeowners are keeping garbage and trash on their lawns.

The law comes after pressure from Marysville residents who have found the city’s current code enforcement to be insufficient to deal with their problems.

The updated ordinance, passed during the July 11 City Council meeting, would allow the city to clean up property and bill the property owner for work done if garbage is stored in public view for more than seven days.

Appliances cannot be stored for more than 14 days and unused automobiles cannot be stored for more than 30 days as well.

Many Marysville residents came to the meeting to tell their own stories about problems in their neighborhoods.

Resident Michael Oleson reported that one house in his neighborhood was “storing garbage in the back of vehicles and all over the property,” and that it smelled of animal feces.

The smell and aesthetics are interfering with his ability to enjoy his own yard, he said.

He said he contacted the city’s code enforcement in April 2015 “and got excellent response from officer [Deryk] McLeod,” however the matter ended when the neighboring house was found to be in compliance.

“I didn’t feel that they were in compliance, but that’s my own personal opinion,” said Oleson.

Others reported problems with cars being stored on lawns.

“One of my neighbors has every vehicle he’s ever owned in front of his house,” said Marysville resident Mark Johnson, who said moss and mildew were visible.

“Code enforcement came out and looked, and determined there was no violation,” he said.

Marysville resident Chris Hottinger reported similar problems.

“Across the street it’s been years and years with houses that have moldy cars, junk cars, wrecked cars, and wrecked RVs, and a drug house with lots of traffic in and out,” he said.

Hottinger said his wife is afraid of the illegal activity so near to their house as well.

Marysville City Council member Stephen Muller said that finding the right solution can be difficult for those types of problems.

“We all want to do the right thing. We all live here and we all want the city to be beautiful. But sometimes there’s barriers to what we think is the right thing,” he said.

The most important part, he said, is finding laws that are effective and are enforceable.

Gloria Hirashima, chief executive officer for the city, admitted that not all the complaints have easy solutions.

“There are some complaints that I’ve heard tonight that would be very difficult to construct a code to deal with,” she said.

Some residents suggested a maximum car limit for residences, but that would be hard to regulate, said Hirashima.

“I don’t know how you would regulate it. Similarly, I know people have asked us to regulate the amount of people that can be in a house, but it’s pretty difficult to regulate family size and, in fact, court cases have said we cannot,” she said.

Council president Kamille Norton also acknowledged that the council does not want to be unnecessarily invasive to people’s properties.

“We want to solve this problem and fix it, but with the recognition that we need to respect the rights of our citizens and not be intrusive into their private lives,” she said.

Council member Jeffrey Vaughan added that the city has done many things to support neighborhood aesthetics.

“Under the leadership of our mayor a lot has been done to cleanup our city in numerous ways,” he said, including a graffiti removal program, Clean Sweep Week and a community beautification grant program that has funded more than $25,000 to Marysville neighborhoods for cleanup.

Vaughan added that the current ordinance may need tweaking or future improvement.

Marysville resident Ron Friesen said that he hopes the city continues.

“It’s unlikely a single revision will address all our problems. We’re making good progress, but we’re not there yet,” he said.

Friesen also hoped more resources were put into code enforcement.

“[Marysville code enforcement officer McLeod] is incredible and doing all he can, but we’re almost three times the size we were and we need more help,” he said.

He hopes that the community can turn around what he sees as problem houses in neighborhoods.

“Fortunately for our city many people are showing the pride needed to improve our city,” he said.

 

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