120 Code Violations Investigated in Chelan County, 35% Increase
Chelan County Code Enforcement deputies are staying busy in the new year after investigating 120 violations in 2023.
The most common code violations are not having a building permit for construction and operating a short-term rental operation without a permit.
The third most common violation is for accumulation of junk, such as junk vehicles.
Code Enforcement Deputy Zach Wenzel says most people are quick to clear up their violations once they know what's required.
"I think largely the community voluntarily complies, especially with getting permits and things," said Wenzel. "After it's explained why that's needed, the community responds very well."
Chelan County Code Enforcement deputies give code violators a grace period of about two weeks to comply with code requirements.
If violators fail to comply with code requirements, fines start at $750 per day and will double over time. If fines aren’t paid, they then go to the collections department where a violator’s credit rating can be downgraded. In rare cases, a lien is placed against property by the county.
The 120 code violation investigations in 2023 was a 35% increase over each of the previous two years.
The increase may be partially connected to short term rental permits, which only started to be required in 2021.
Wenzel says most short-term rental businesses work to comply with the code, even though the operations have become a hot button issue in the county.
"I believe most people know a permit is required in Chelan County now," Wenzel said. "It's just going through the steps and actually obtaining permits is what a lot of these folks are still working through."
Wenzel says the county's been successful using platforms such as social media to communicate the requirement for short-term rental permits.
The increase in code violations is definitely a reflection of code enforcement being fully staffed with three members, according to Wenzel.
Code enforcement moved to the sheriff’s office in Chelan County in 2021 with commissioned deputies handling enforcement for the first time.
Code enforcement handles county municipal code, Washington state building code, international building code, international residential code and many others including codes under state law.
In addition, code enforcement handles civil papers for the sheriff’s office, including eviction notices and protection orders.
Wenzel says they served about 1,800 civil papers in 2023, a number he expects to increase this year, given full staffing levels.
County codes include:Title 3 (Building Regulations); Title 11 (Zoning); Title 12 (Subdivisions); Title 13 (Environment); Title 15 (Development Standards); Title 16 (Enforcement and Violations); the Chelan County Shoreline Master Program; and county-adopted city codes for the Urban Growth Areas of Wenatchee, Cashmere, Chelan, Entiat and Leavenworth. Code enforcement officers have the full authority of Community Development to enforce the relevant sections of county codes and state laws.