Fire Hazards

Fire Hazard

Read the Code: SMC 10.08.040

What is it?

Owners and occupants of property within the City must remove or destroy all grass; weeds; shrubs; bushes; trees and vegetation growing or which has grown and died; and all debris that is a fire hazard or a detriment to the public health, safety, or welfare. Fire Hazard season is from May 1st – November 1st.

The Fire Official or Code Enforcement Officer considers the following when determining whether or not a site is a fire hazard:

  1. Is the situation present during fire season?
  2. Has there been a lack of rain for 10 continuous days which has negatively affected the soil moisture content?
  3. Has the average air temperature been above 70 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 consecutive days?
  4. Is the length of the grass or other vegetative material, whether standing or matted, 10 inches or more?
  5. Is the vegetation within 10 feet of a combustible fence or other structure?

What it isn't

The Fire Hazard code doesn't cover vegetation that is less than 10 inches in length, vegetation that is too sparse to spread fire, times of the year where consecutive days of 70 degrees or hotter have not occurred, it does not cover vegetation that is not within 10 feet of a combustible structure.

If there is debris, it must be of considerable dryness and flammability to be able to combust and spread. Most cases of debris are not dealt with as a fire hazard but as a solid waste issue.

Fines and Abatement

  1. The City may cause the removal or destruction of such vegetation and debris by notice of violation and, as appropriate in each case:
    1. Issuance of a class 1 civil infraction for the violation.
    2. Direct action by City forces or contract, the cost of which will be billed to the owners of the property or as a utility service to the property. Fees for fire hazard abatement are contained in SMC 8.02.0616.


Read the Code: SMC 10.10.090

What is it?

Form of visual communication involving the unauthorized marking of public or private space by an individual or group, either by etching or spray paint.

What it isn't

Any markings, art or murals that are done with the consent and permission of the property owner.


Failure to remove graffiti within ten days after receipt of notification is a class 4 civil infraction. Each day of a continuing violation is a separate offense.

Report Graffiti

Citizens can report graffiti online. The online portal can be used via computer or using a smartphone or tablet. You may also contact My Spokane by dialing 311, or for outside city limits, 509.755.CITY (2489).

Graffiti Prevention

Property owners can take steps to prevent graffiti tagging on their property. Here are a few tips to keep you property graffiti-free.

  • Create a barrier using vegetation or a fence to ward off potential graffiti vandals.
  • Use materials and surfaces that make graffiti vandalism difficult: apply a clear coat finish to protect painted and unpainted surfaces and use protective film covering on windows.
  • Keep your property well-lit and install flashing motion-sensor lighting.
  • Install surveillance cameras to monitor activity on your property.
  • Join or form organizations for your local business or neighborhood group to help keep eyes on the community.

Remove Graffiti

There are several methods of removing graffiti, the most common being simply to paint over it. Per the City of Spokane Municipal code, 10.10.090, property owners are required to remove the graffiti within ten (10) days of notification from the City of Spokane.

Illegal Dumping

Illegal Dumping

Read the Code: SMC 10.08.010

What is it?

A form of littering whereby the disposal or disposing of greater than (1) cubic foot. Examples of illegal dumping are as follows: Depositing or disposing of any garbage, litter or discarded items in any public place, Public Park or in the waters within the City limits. Depositing garbage, litter or discarded items on the private property of another without the property owner's permission. Depositing any garbage, litter or discarded items into any garbage can, dumpster or other receptacle located on the property of another, except for containers placed in an area and designated for public use.

What it isn't

Illegal dumps do not include taking care of people who live in unsanitary conditions. If the inside of a person's house is a concern, please contact Regional Health District.


Citizens can report illegal dumps online. The online portal can be used via computer or using a smartphone or tablet. You may also contact My Spokane by dialing 311, or for outside city limits, 509.755.CITY (2489).


Fines for illegal dumping are as follows:

  • City: $513
  • County: $1,000 and/or 90 days in jail


Junk Vehicles

Junk Vehicle

Read the Code: SMC 10.16

What is it?

Junk Vehicles are considered a public nuisance because they are more than just an eyesore. They detract from the residential aspect of the neighborhood and reduce the property values. They can be hazardous to children and often have sharp edges, broken glass and are up on unsteady jacks, etc. They are often left in open areas where they are noticed by many people and have toxic fluids and other material there are often found to be on the ground.

Junk Vehicle means a vehicle certified under RCW 46.55.230 as meeting at least three of the following requirements:

  1. Is three years old, or older
  2. Is extensively damaged, such as broken windows, or missing wheels, tires, motor, or transmission
  3. Is apparently inoperable
  4. Has an approximate fair market value equal only to the approximate value of the scrap in it. Scrap value is currently approximately $60

What it Isn't

Junk vehicles are more than just an ugly car you are tired of seeing. Exceptions to Chapter 10.16 include vehicles that are completely enclosed within a building in a lawful manner where it is not visible from the street or other public or private property; or stored or parked in a lawful manner on private property in connection with the business of a licensed dismantler or licensed vehicle dealer and is fenced according to the provisions of RCW 46.80.130.


Failure to comply may result in a citation of $513 a day or order the removal, at the cost to the owner (see abatement.)


  1. After notice has been given of the City's intent to dispose of the vehicle or after the appeal hearing has been held, resulting in authority to remove, the vehicle or part thereof shall be removed at the request of a law enforcement officer or limited commission officer and disposed of to a licensed motor vehicle wrecker or hulk hauler with notice to the Washington State patrol and the state department of licensing that the vehicle has been wrecked.
    1. Any vehicle or part thereof impounded pursuant to this chapter shall be processed in accordance with the laws of the State of Washington.
  2. Any registered disposer under contract of the City for the impounding of vehicles shall comply with any administrative regulations relative to the handling and disposing of vehicles as may be promulgated by the local authority or the director.
  3. Failure to remove as a result of a hearing examiner order may result in a class I civil infraction. Costs of removal may be assessed against the registered owner of the vehicle if the identity of the owner can be determined, unless the owner in the transfer of ownership of the vehicle has complied with RCW 46.12.101, or the costs may be assessed against the owner of the property on which the vehicle is stored, subject to SMC 10.16.060.
  4. The impounding of a vehicle shall not preclude charging the violator with any violation of the law on account of which such vehicle was impounded.
  5. In addition to, or in lieu of, any other state or local provisions for the recovery of costs, the City may, after removal of a vehicle under this chapter, file for record with the County auditor to claim a lien for the cost of removal and any and all outstanding fines and collection costs, which shall be in substance in accordance with the provision covering mechanics' liens in chapter 60.04 RCW, and said lien shall be foreclosed in the same manner as such liens.

Need Assistance?

On the property: If you have a junk vehicle on your property with no title call a towing company that also does junk vehicle affidavits. After receiving the affidavit, or if you already have a title, here is a list of local towing companies:

  • AA Auto Salvage: 509.456.4367
  • Pull & Save: 509.921.8000

Land Use Violations

Land Use Violation

Read the code: SMC 17C

What is it?

A land use violation is making any use of a property or structure other than the permitted uses for that zone found in the Spokane Municipal Code Title 17C.110-340.

Common land use violations include; parking in the front yard, continuous yard sales, recreational camping; home business regulations, signs, residential fencing, animals, setback area, living in a garage, shed or other illegal structure.


  1. It is a violation of this title to fail to comply with any provision of this title or with any term of any permit condition or approval issued pursuant to this chapter.
  2. It is a violation of this title to fail to comply with any order issued pursuant to this title or to remove or deface any sign, notice, complaint or order required by or posted in accordance with this title.
  3. It is a violation of this title to misrepresent any material fact in any application, on plans or in any other information submitted to obtain any determination, authorization, permit condition or approval under this title.
  4. It is a violation of this title to aid and abet, counsel, encourage, hire, command, induce or otherwise procure another to violate or fail to comply with this title.
  5. Violations of this title by any owner or occupant of private property is subject to the penalties set forth in chapter 1.05 SMC.
  6. Each day of a continuing violation is a separate offense.

Right of Way Violations

Right of Way Violation

Read the Code: SMC's 17C, 17F, 12.01, and 12.02.

What is it?

Right of way violations include blocking a pedestrian path, broken sidewalks, collapsed retaining walls, modifications of grade, basketball hoops, skateboard ramps, piles of materials or buildings in the right of way, vegetation obstruction. The purpose of Chapter 12.02 is to regulate and control the obstruction of the public right-of-way in the City so that those rights-of-way remain accessible and safe for their intended public use.

Section 12.02.948 defines “right-of-way” as that strip of land: a.) dedicated for public travel, including the main traveled portions of the streets and sidewalks as well as parking or planting strips, pedestrian buffer strips, and other associated areas, or over which is built, public streets, sidewalks, or alleys for public travel; or b.) used for or dedicated to utilities installation within the right-of-way.

The “right-of-way” is typically an easement over the land of the abutting property owner.

What it isn't

Right-of-way violations do not include items that are located on private property that are not obstructing public right of way.


  1. In addition to the procedures for warrants of abatement provided in chapter 7.48 RCW, the Spokane municipal court has jurisdiction, by way of suspended or deferred sentence, to require a person found guilty of a nuisance to abate the same. It may also direct the confiscation and disposition of any animal or other personal property involved.
  2. Proceedings to abate a nuisance as described in SMC 12.02.0202 or SMC 12.02.0208 are initiated by resolution of the city council, adopted after not less than five days' notice to the owner of the property.
    1. The resolution describes the property involved and the hazardous condition and requires the owner to abate the nuisance within the time fixed therein after notice of the resolution is given.
  3. If the nuisance condition is not abated after notice is given, the City may abate the same and all costs, fees and expenses thereof shall be a charge against the owner and a lien against the property.
  4. Notice of the lien herein authorized is, as nearly as practicable, in substantially the same form, filed with the same officer, within the same time and manner, and enforced and foreclosed, as is provided by law for liens for labor and materials.
  5. Nothing in this code is a limitation upon the power of the City to declare a nuisance and abate the same without resort to the courts and to impose fines or penalties upon persons who create, maintain or permit nuisances.

Snow Removal

Sidewalk Snow Removal

What is it?

  1. Owners and occupants of premises shall keep the sidewalk areas adjacent to any portion of the real property (including corners) free and clear of snow and/or accumulations of snow or ice.
  2. No snow or ice from private premises shall be plowed into or placed in or on the streets or other areas of the public right of way, parks or other public property. This does not apply to operations by municipal crews. Snow or ice from sidewalks and driveway approaches may be placed in planting strips, or added to berms created by municipal plowing operations, provided it does not obstruct a clear view of stop signs or other traffic signs or signals, other otherwise create a hazard to or impairment of pedestrian or vehicular traffic. This section applies to:
    1. Homeowners of single family residences, duplexes or triplexes
    2. By persons in business of plowing or clearing snow
    3. Anyone other than parties noted in (B)(1) or (B)(2), such as business, commercial, multiunit premises, etc.

What it isn't?

This code does not apply to private property driveways or walkways or operations by municipal crews.

Solid Waste

Solid Waste before and after

Read the Code: See SMC 10.08.010 for the entire code. SMC 13.02.0224, SMC 13.02.0242.

What Is It?

Solid waste includes rubbish, refuse, garbage, discarded items, and all waste materials of every kind and description.

What It Isn't

The ordinance does not include items such as toys, tools or yard art which may present a cluttered appearance are not a violation.


A violation of this section is one of the following:

  1. Class 3 civil infraction when a person litters in an amount less than or equal to one cubic foot
  2. Class 1 civil infraction when a person litters in an amount greater than one cubic foot
  3. Class 1 civil infraction for which the maximum penalty and default amount in five hundred dollars when a person discards a cigarette, cigar or other tobacco product capable of being lit. (RCW 70.93.060)


Accumulation of solid waste, including garbage, refuse, or any malodorous, unhealthful, flammable, or putrescent materials on the premises is considered a public nuisance and is susceptible to abatement by the City, with or without prior notice. These abatements would be at the expense and liability of the premises owner and/or the person causing or maintaining the premises. They are charged based on time, distance of haul, accessibility of staff, vehicles and equipment to materials, number and kind of workers, equipment used, volumes or weights of materials removed or any combination of these variables. The Litter Control crew may trim any trees, shrubbery or remove any obstructions or obstacles to the safe and efficient collection of material to be removed. Any charges for such action may be added to the bill for the solid waste service.

Unpaid charges within 30 days of the service may become a lien against the property as per SMC 13.02.0242.

Substandard Building

Substandard Building

Read the Code: SMC 17F.070.400 & .410. For further information refer to SMC Chapter 14F.070.

What is it?

In determining whether a building is a substandard or unfit for human habitation so as to require its owner to repair and rehabilitate the building, the building official and the hearing examiner consider the number and extent of the following factors:

  1. Dilapidation: Exterior decay, water damage.
  2. Structural defects: Foundation, wall and roof framing.
  3. Unsanitary conditions: Waste accumulation, health hazards.
  4. Defective/inoperable plumbing.
  5. Inadequate weatherproofing: Siding, roofing and glazing.
  6. No activated utility service for one year.
  7. Inoperable or inadequate heating system.
  8. Hazardous electrical conditions.
  9. Structure has been boarded more than one year and no approved rehabilitation plan.
  10. Structure used in the manufacture of methamphetamine or any other illegal drugs and has been condemned by the Spokane county health district and the owner has failed to abate the nuisance condition.
  11. Fire-damaged structure.
  12. Defects increasing the hazards of fire, accident or other calamity.

What it isn't

Substandard Buildings does not include buildings that are apparently unattractive; they must meet one or more of the above listed factors.

Building Official Process

  1. Substandard building complaints are turned in by citizens or agencies to Code Enforcement.
  2. A code officer investigates to see if the building meets the criteria go 14F.070.400 & .410.
  3. The Code Enforcement staff reviews the case and schedules a public hearing.
  4. The property owner presents the evidence at the hearing of why the building is not substandard/unfit or if they plan to rehabilitate or demolish the building.
  5. If the building is unfit a not demolished by the property owner, the City will complete the demolition at the owner's expense.

Building Official Hearing Agendas