Marysville tightens rules against junky yards

MARYSVILLE — On Monday, the Marysville City Council made changes to the city’s municipal code that it hopes will make it easier to enforce the cleanup of chronic nuisances.

The issue came to light recently because some people were found to essentially have been using their back yards as landfills.

When the city’s staff presented the City Council with a sample ordinance several weeks ago, it had identified two specific locations.

Based on the crowd that packed the council meeting, the problem appears to be more widespread.

North Marysville resident Ron Friesen outlined a host of problems, including garbage, junk vehicles parked on the streets, vacant and neglected houses and a shortage of code enforcement officers.

“We have neglected this, I think, because it’s hard,” Friesen said. “We have to step up.”

Mike Oleson, who lives near Marysville Pilchuck High School, said he’s had repeated problems with a neighbor.

“Honestly, I don’t care what people do in their back yards so long as it doesn’t affect my way of living,” Oleson said. “Unfortunately, the adjacent property smells of animal feces.”

The ordinance the council adopted unanimously Monday is an almost complete rewrite of the “Public Nuisances” chapter in the city’s code.

It changes definitions of different nuisances, adds more categories of what is prohibited and expands the city’s authority to enforce the code.

Some of the stronger measures allow for city officials to enter private property to deal with immediate threats to health, safety or welfare, and set a criminal penalty of up to 90 days in jail, a $1,000 fine, or both, for anyone who interferes with the city’s actions.

The rewrite also authorizes the city to bill for the costs of actions it is forced to take, including placing liens on properties for uncollected expenses.

Another added clause allows registered property owners to be held liable for the mess as well as the residents. That also could apply to so-called “zombie houses”: homes lost to foreclosure or condemnation that banks are neither maintaining nor putting up for sale.

Police Chief Rick Smith told the council that these changes will be significant. He also said his officers and staff have been working hard to meet people’s needs in the city.

“I don’t want that to be lost as these issues come up,” Smith said. “As we grow as a city, we’re going to continue to face these types of issues.”

Councilman Jeff Seibert said the city will have to remain vigilant for nuisances so that once they’re taken care of, they don’t return later. It might mean revamping the city code again, he said.

“We’ll probably have to come back and look at it again. There’s no fix-all for it,” Seibert said.

The new ordinance can be downloaded from

Chris Winters: 425-374-4165; Twitter: @Chris_At_Herald.

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