News

Council cleans up nuisance properties

By CHARLES MELTON

Editor

Despite concerns that the city’s proposed chronic nuisance ordinance was too vague, the Bremerton City Council unanimously adopted it Wednesday night at the Norm Dicks Government Center.

“This is a problem that needs to be addressed and we’re doing that tonight,” Council President Will Maupin said.

The law allows for penalties of up to $100 per day if property owners don’t show that they’re taking steps to address certain problems, such as drug dealing or other criminal activity or health hazards.

The council’s approval came after numerous residents, property owners and other impacted by the law weighed in on it during the public hearing. Most supported the idea, but didn’t feel the proposed ordinance was complete enough for final adoption.

“I’m all for this ordinance,” said Alex Munro, who works at Bremerton’s Benedict House, a transitional home for men. “I think you ought to pass it, when you’re done writing it.”

Bremerton resident Susan Brown warned the council about the law of unintended consequences because of the vagueness of the ordinance.

“People might be less inclined to call the police,” Brown said, referring to the three documented incidents clause, which triggers action by Bremerton Police Chief Craig Rogers, in the ordinance.

However, Bremerton Housing Authority executive director Kurt Wiest spoke in favor of the proposed ordinance.

“I’m in favor of the ordinance, because it allows the police department to address problems,” Wiest said.

The ordinance shouldn’t impact any reasonable property owner, but it will help the city crackdown on persistent problem areas, Wiest said.

Councilman Brad Gehring said initially he was opposed to the ordinance, but after studying the issue and speaking with the various groups impacted by it, he had a change of heart.

“I think it’s a good first step,” Gehring said. “However, changes can be made should they arise.”

Assistant city attorney Ken Bagwell reminded the council that the ordinance can be amended at any time during the future should problems arise as the new law takes effect.

“It was difficult to foresee all of the possible nuisance activities,” Bagwell said. “Hopefully it will encourage people to call the police.

While some viewed the ordinance as being punitive in nature, Bagwell said the only thing the new law does is trigger communication between the city and the property owner or individual responsible for the nuisance activity.

“If they’re taking steps to remedy the situation, then we won’t take any action against them,” he said.

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