The Ghost of County Commissions Past is still haunting our community. One example was the recent public hearing held on March 3 by the Thurston County commissioners for the proposed Title 26 Code Enforcement Ordinance. Staff from the planning department and the prosecutor’s office created this draft ordinance and sold it as a “housekeeping” effort to consolidate the currently confusing code enforcement scheme.
Nobody needs to be convinced that Thurston County’s planning and code enforcement efforts are a mess. However, this proposed ordinance assumes in both a civil and criminal context that alleged violators are guilty until they prove themselves innocent. The mere threat of these proposed regulations would be abusively coercive to the public. This draft would allow the county to take extraordinary steps that affect our homes, property and livelihoods without adequate notice, hearing, or judicial process. This raises serious due process and equal protection issues and seems likely to put the county and the tax payers at risk of many successful legal challenges similar to last year’s Maytown fiasco.
Supposedly, legal counsel vetted this flawed draft ordinance, which only serves to spotlight the low quality of the legal advice our tax dollars are funding. Citizens should continue to oppose this harmful ordinance as they overwhelmingly did at this hearing. The commissioners should also reject this proposed ordinance, and just as importantly seek to find the ghost in the staff machine that is inventing such bad ideas at our expense. We need ghostbusters.