OT--Taking on city hall

Dear Mr. Trejo.

I am writing this letter in response to a complaint I recently received from your office wherein you claim to have discovered items present upon my property located at 1629 Cloverdale Road that are supposedly in violation of State and County guidelines pertaining to solid waste storage and disposal as mandated per WAC 173-350 and Cowlitz County Code Title 15-30

( REF : Your case # SW 05-107 )

Your letter specifically lists exactly 4 items as being in violation, with those items consisting of the following :

(A) An "abandoned truck with no motor",

(B) "Tires",

(C) "Wood Pallets", and;

(D) "A piece of heavy machinery".

The letter was accompanied with photographs of the above mentioned items that are being considered by your office to be in violation.

For convienience, I will hereinafter address these issues separately, as being items ( A ) through ( D ) below.

Please refer to item (A):

The truck mentioned above, while admittedly not presently in operable condition, is currently in the process of being repaired.

In fact, fairly recently and at a considerable expense, I have overhauled a replacement engine in order to install into said truck when it becomes convenient for me to do so at some point in the future. As such, this truck should by no stretch of the imagination be considered to be "abandoned".

Furthermore, please note that "Junk Vehicles" are specifically addressed under Cowlitz County Code Title 10, beginning at Section 27, Para 010.

Most notably, under Title 10 section 27 Para 040, "three or more" "junk vehicles" must be accumulated upon a premises in order to constitute a violation.of the County Code.

Bearing into mind the above mentioned code, the inoperable truck does not in my opinion constitute a violation and so no further action on my part is planned at this point in time concerning it's ultimate disposition.

Still, if your office continues to allege this truck to be in violation of the WAC, County, or any other applicable codes, then I would expect you to provide me with the specific code citation by title, section and paragraph in any further correspondance, and then at that point in time I might revisit my decision.

Also, as it would be readily apparent the Cowlitz County Code as it is currently written conflicts with the applicable Washington Administrative Code, I suggest the County would be well advised to conduct a review and possible revision of the applicable code in order to bring it into compliance with the state guidelines as they apply to this particular situation or any other similar situations that may arise in the future.

Please refer to item (B)

Upon inspecting the area this morning, I did note there to be tires upon the premises. In fact, I found exactly two tires; both of which are in completely servicable condition. Indeed, both of these tires are in "as new" condition.

Upon reviewing WAC 173-350-100 ( "Definitions' ), I note that "waste tires" are very specifically described. I dare suggest your office should actually take the time to review and make itself more familiar with the applicable code as it pertains to waste tires before making claims as to any code violations regarding the legal handling and /or storage and disposal of tires in any quantity or condition.

However, considering that one of the tires and several other items belonging to the truck mentioned in (A ) above are currently being stored upon a wooden pallet and generally contribute to an overall appearance of clutter, the pallet containing these items has been moved to be closer to the truck, this in accordance with the community desire and in order that the general area will not appear to be quite as cluttered as it had before.

At this time, I have no further action planned concerning these two tires.

However, (and as before), if your office continues to believe that the presence of these tires somehow constitutes a code violation and can cite the specific code as to the exact Title, Section and Paragraph that these two tires supposedly violate, then I would gladly revisit my decision above as it regards properly storing and/or disposing of them. Perhaps I might even decide to move them inside, where they would no longer be in the view of passersby or code enforcement personnel whom apparently have nothing better to do while on duty other than to waste the public funds in making false and uninformed claims as to what constitutes "waste tires" and the proper storage and disposal thereof.

Please refer to item (C)

Wood pallets come in a variety of sizes, and are routinely used in the course of my business for the shipping and recieving of products to our customers. As I can't possibly know in advance what size of pallet might be required for any given shipment, it is then logical and reasonable to expect that some quantity of wooden pallets will of necessity accumulate upon the premises.

Often, these pallets are not neatly stacked, and sometimes they might even be held in storage for a long enough period of time for them to deteriorate somewhat due to outside weather conditions, even to the point of their being un-usable for their intended purpose .

Disposal of any deteriorated or unusable pallets has in the past consisted of my eventually sawing them into managable sized pieces, and then burning them in our home fireplace as a winter heating fuel.

Sorting of pallets usually takes place several times per year, in fact, any useable pallets have just recently been neatly stacked and those deemed as unservicable have been removed from the area for incineration.

Still, please bear in mind that some quantity of wooden pallets will inevitably always be present upon the property; and so as before, if the outdoor storage of some quantity of wooden pallets for shipping purposes or for eventual use as firewood somehow constitutes a code violation then I would appreciate if you could please specifically cite the applicable law by Title, Section and Paragraph.

And finally, please refer to item (D)

The item of "heavy machinery" is actually a farming implement. More specifically, it is a post hole auger that attaches to my tractor; and it is in completely servicable condition and it also happens to be a fairly valuable piece of equipment.

As such, I am left rather bewhildered, and as you could well imagine, I most certainly find your referring to the item as being a "solid waste violation" to be extremely bizarre.

Following your line of reasoning, I would suggest then that the county road shop just up the road from here currently has an approximately one acre site that is simply chock full of solid waste that is currently being improperly handled and so I should expect that immediate action will be taken on your part in order to force the agency into properly disposing of and / or storing any and all of the heavy machinery and /or equipment that is laying scattered about the premises, this regardless it's of actual value and notwithstanding the question of whether said heavy machinery it is in servicable condition or otherwise.

However, in the spirit of compliance, I have covered the above mentioned post hole auger with a plastic tarp and am planning to perhaps take a look at it in another few months in order to make sure that it hasn't somehow magically transformed itself into raw sewage, anthrax virus, radioactive materials; or anything else that might in actaulity comprise"waste" in some way, shape, or form.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any further concerns or questions regarding this matter. Otherwise I shall consider the case closed.

Kindest regards,

Samuel V. Lockwood

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Hey Sam, this is a good one - its a classic !

Your municipality reckons you are collecting piles of junk, and in response to (probably complaints by neighbours) have decided that you should clean it up. They wouldnt initiate this action themselves, they want a quiet life like everyone else.

You disagree - the truck is in the process of restoration, the tyres are spares for the truck, and the piles of pallets are "useful for something even if its only firewood" - oh, and the post hole auger - why you need one in the city is of no consequence, its a nice piece of machinery, and you have thrown a tarp over it.

This a real dilemma - your precious treasures are someone elses junk. You can almost certainly spend the next few years arguing with City Hall about the precise legal definition of "Junk" They will win. You will have a good fight, but they will win.

An alternative is to talk to them, see what they consider to be acceptable for what is, I assume, a suburban property, and modify your practices enough to be able to lead a quiet life, not annoy the neighbours, and get on with your interests in things mechanical. Which , I might hasten to add, is a perfectly legitimate pursuit - my "junque" takes up less obvious space than your junk, so I dont have to worry about such things.

An observation - dismiss it if its not relevamt to you - people who surround themselves with crap and live amongst it usually do crap work. Maybe you do need to sort things out a bit....

Andrew VK3BFA.

Reply to
Andrew VK3BFA

We had a code inspector here who hated my '58 Chevy 4X4 . Bastard cited me numerous times , even though the truck was operable , tagged and insured . Yup , it was rusty , and ugly , but it was neither derelict nor abandoned . He finally stopped harrassing me when I showed up in court (over his telephoned assurances that I need not appear) in full leathers ... his eyes almost popped out of his head when he realized who he had been sitting next to all morning . Funny , I haven't been cited since that day ...

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Compared to my next-door-neighbor, your place sounds like a well-maintained mansion! I'd be honored to have you as a neighbor anyday :)


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Hey Sam,

I'd send these muhfugguhs some solid waste.....

Will you be *my* loiyer??

Bespeaks the merits of big-assed tall *continuous* fencing all around one's fiefdom. Wonder if a fukn neighbor ratted you out.

Oh yeah, clean dat shit up, cuz yer work *is* gettin a little sloppy lately.... :)

Reply to
Proctologically Violated©®


Interesting and amusing letter. The bottom line is, that you are obfuscating the facts as the powers at city hall see them.

I am curious to know how they will respond, and how long it will take for them to win their case. against you.


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Research what IS acceptable. What would it take to make any "junk" into "art" or "sculpture"? You have a RIGHT, nay a DUTY to express your creativity, and for someone to say what you do is not art is discrimination. You could get a lot of mileage and backing from the local ACLU and TV stations.

And, then move it to a place of prominence on your property, like out front, or on a hill. Then the nosy neighbor who called it in can view it more clearly.

Hell, who knows. Someone with some $eriou$ cash might stop by and spend some real money.


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When my shop was inside the city limits, I got a letter from the city about an "abandoned, junk vehicle" in the parking lot by the shop. Police came out after I asked city hall what they were complaining about. Pointed to my ugly shop truck. When I directed the cop's attention to the current license and inspection, he offered an apology. I moved my shop out of the city a few months later.

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On Tue, 6 Dec 2005 00:11:39 -0800, with neither quill nor qualm, "PrecisionMachinisT" quickly quoth:

The letter is good, Sam, but could have been better. Addressing their grievances point by point was very good.

In case there's a next time (probable), remember these tips:

1) Don't get facetious or cute with them. If the letter goes to court, it could be pointed out as a taunt from you by their attorney. Plain facts work best and ensure the judge that you are trying your utmost to comply with codes, being a "good neighbor." Anything other than a fact gives them ammo against you. (It doesn't matter how good it may make you, or us, feel about the letter.) 2) Continue to check the codes for city, county, and state if any pertain to your citation. City inspectors expand and trip over these all the time. Look around City Hall and find all the variances they have allowed to the code they're using against you. Get copies in case you need them in court. 3) Spellcheck your letter before you send it. It was great up to the word "bewhildered" which shouldn't have an "h" in it. It totally broke the tone of the letter for me.

And, for heaven's sake, paint your truck so it doesn't look like a typical Chebby, eh?

(And I should talk, with a blue/primer/rust F-150 out front.)

---------------------------------------------------- Thesaurus: Ancient reptile with excellent vocabulary

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Reply to
Larry Jaques

Don't be so sure they will win. I've had a number of run-ins with those pricks and won every time. His only problem may be that they'll find something else to hassle him over. I don't think it's a good idea to give them a hard time when they're right, but they can only enforce the laws as written. Wants and desires on their part should play no part, as algore found out in 2000... it's the law that matters. The law is exactly what is spelled out in the statute and nothing more.

Reply to
George Willer

Dare I say it, it might make sense to talk to a local attorney.

1) the lawyer will know what the law *is* and if he is or is not in compliance. 2) the lawyere will probably know the local personalities involved and how best to navigate the situation. 3) obtaining council will be viewed by the city as his being serious about the matter, and make him seem less like 'low hanging fruit' for a code enforcement officer who is just trying to rack up brownie points.


Reply to
jim rozen

nice, but you mispelled "actuality"...;^)

how'd it work out?



Reply to
John Emmons

Just an update...

The letter has NOT been sent--but I did have a nice chat with Mr. Trejo this morning, he actually seems to be a fairly nice man...

Tentatively scheduled him to visit with me here on this friday in order to verify compliance and will add more info as the situation continues to develop.

FWIW, the complaining party is a Ms. Donna Hendryx, a local real estate agent--what she was doing upon my property in the first place is still a complete mystery to me, I am rather secluded and access is via a long private drive in the county....the officer informed me she had filed a total of 3 complaints on that same day.

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Few things in this life offer less payback and result in more mental pain than feuding with an entrenched government bureaucracy. Unless you have $100K sitting around and are willing to hand it to an attorney as a retainer, I'd advise you to make peace with these pinheads. Another option is to move to a place where they aren't.

Reply to
Tim Killian

Priceless, can I save it for dealing with Dallas TX?

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My experience is that the bureaucrats are happy to leave well enough alone, as long as you help them defend against the complainant - in your case some real estate woman.

My sincere suggestion is to go back and edit out all of the angry, insulting, abrasive comments from your letter, and make it as plain and straightforward as you can. Write it as if Mr Trejo was on your side, which I think he probably is. Then print it out and have it ready to hand to him when he comes out to visit.

When he visits, ask him how long he has lived in the area, see if he has any interest in old cars or trucks, show off your favorite lathe or tractor, and in general, be a nice guy. You will come off as the nice, reasonable, old timer vs. the shrill, bitchy, nagging, complaining busybody.

Make this guy your friend against the intruding yuppie lady. It's nice to be nice...

Reply to

Why not find out where her office is and stop by and ask her? I'm betting that she's planning on either trying to sell or buy some land or a building near your's and she's worried about being able to sell it. Who knows, you might have stumbled into some local land scandal...:^)

If she turns out to be a bigger problem, post a "No Trespassing" sign and file a complaint against her if she violates it.

John E.

Reply to
John Emmons

I was wondering how in the hell anybody saw your stuff. She must be getting ready to list one of your neighbors. Are you going to ask her if you should counter her complaint with a trespassing charge of your own?



Reply to
Charlie Gary

A nosy neighbor didn't like that I parked my travel trailer on a dirt strip on the side of my house. He called zoning, and the zoning compliance officer came out and looked at it. He was obviously miffed that he had to come deal with this situation, as he had far more serious violations to deal with.

He told me that the trailer had to be parked on concrete. The front of my house was all paved. He said I could park it in FRONT of my house if I chose, and I would be in compliance. He also said I could park it on the street if I moved it every 72 hours. He also stated that I could park it IN FRONT of my neighbor's house for 72 hours max. He did say that IF I did put it back on the dirt strip, I had to put up a block wall, thus making the dirt strip a part of the back yard, and that if I parked it where it was, I would be in violation. He basically told me where the lines were, and how to dance inside them.

I shuttled the trailer from in front of my house to in front of my neighbor's house for a month when I sold the trailer. The first time I parked it in front of the neighbor's house, he called in again. I saw the COs truck at their house one day.

Apparently, he informed the neighbor of the law, and that I was in compliance.

I think the neighbor found out that sometimes when you make a wave, it can swamp your own boat as well.


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snip, snip, snip .........

boing! ........... idea ............

'Tis the season. Put Christmas lights on your stuff, and some religious figures.

Officials would rather fight with a chainsaw than go after something religious.

Just a thought to buy a few weeks.............

Now, I'm going back to my nap ..............


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