All Thurston County residents should be concerned with the county’s proposed Title 26 code enforcement ordinance. All of us should be concerned about any ordinance that violates due process, creates equal protection problems, presumes guilt in order to force citizens to prove their innocence, and which demands criminal prosecution of residents for any non-conforming behavior senior bureaucrats don’t like.
However, beyond the new civil penalties and expanded police powers created by this ordinance, there are other outcomes which should concern everyone. As written and drafted by county staff, this ordinance rewards the worst behavior in our community. Title 26 encourages people who have an inability to get along with others to use taxpayer resources and the power of the state to harm their neighbors. This ordinance divides our community by adding fuel to the fire of neighbor disputes to no benefit of our county.
Thurston County staff chose to write an ordinance to punish all 275,000 residents of Thurston County, rather than help the three or four property owners who need help. A diversion program to help people who have problems with extreme hoarding was not even considered. Staff decided that jail and bankruptcy was preferable.
Title 26 needs a total rewrite. Rather than punish people, it should be written to help people. Rather than divide neighbors, it should be written to help people. The Thurston County commissioners need to demonstrate leadership and reject this staff-infected ordinance. Put people first in our community and try again.
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