Jeff Humphrey

New Codes Could Save Lives, Property

Jeff Humphrey, Media Content Coordinator, 509.625.6308

Friday, July 27, 2018 at 10:19 a.m.

Spokane is home to some of the nicest neighborhoods in the Pacific Northwest and so now, code enforcement officials asking for a new tool to make sure they stay that way.

The City of Spokane wants to adopt some minimum standards for housing both inside and outside any place people call home.

“Means of cooking, means of heat, light, ventilation; that the place is not overcrowded. That there is adequate space for occupancy,” Jason Ruffing said as he listed off some of the new criteria.

A lot of the proposed property maintenance codes involve safety requirements. For example, Ruffing found a bedroom window in a Northwest Spokane home that would not meet the code because the window had been nailed or glued shut.

“And that would be potentially hazardous in the case of emergency escape and rescue. For example, if there was a fire in this part of the house,” warned Ruffing.

Ruffing had the same concerns about broken window that’s been replaced by a piece of plywood at a home further down the street.

The new property maintenance codes also require that a home’s exterior protect the structure from the elements.

There could soon be minimum standards for roofing and siding.

However, code enforcement officials won’t be showing up at your home at all unless someone complains about an alleged code violation.

Even then, the inspection process is designed to get voluntary compliance from the property owner.

The City is a lot more interested in education than enforcement, but civil infractions can be issued by code enforcement officers.

“Once a complaint is received, it just turns into a standard code enforcement process where there’s an initial investigation, some attempts to contact whoever the complainant was to investigate that complaint,” explained Ruffing.

Code enforcement officials hope the new regulations will improve quality of life conditions for tenants living in low rent districts and also protect the values of the area’s real estate.

The Mayor’s Housing Task Force recommended defining minimum standards for housing quality in Spokane and that led to the creation of these new property maintenance codes.

If the City council adopts them, the new regulations will go into effect in early 2019.

For more information, visit the Mayor’s Housing Quality Task Force project page on the City of Spokane’s website.

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