State building code demands City of Snohomish enforce permits


To the Editor:
I’d like to provide some information about recent code enforcement action in the City of Snohomish on unpermitted temporary structures and set the record straight.
The City’s building codes have been in place for more than 60 years, and the State Building Code Council mandates that local jurisdictions like Snohomish adopt the International Building Code as it’s updated. While a city can be more stringent than these laws, we cannot be less restrictive.
The City issued a state of emergency in March 2020 in response to COVID-19, suspending code enforcement and allowing businesses to add temporary structures for outdoor seating and dining. When the emergency proclamation ended in November 2022, these structures needed to be removed or permitted.
Temporary structures that meet permit requirements are only allowed to be up for six months. Certain types of permanent structures are allowed under these standards, but they must be permitted and inspected by the City’s Building Official.
A majority of restaurants promptly removed the structures as requested. In August 2023, the eight businesses who had not responded to previous requests to file for a permit or remove the structures were contacted and a voluntary compliance agreement was put in place.
Allowing unpermitted structures is a violation of state and international codes and puts the taxpayers, property owners, and business operators at significant risk of liability. Not enforcing building code requirements creates an inequity for those businesses that follow permitting requirements.
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Heather Thomas,
City Administrator
City of Snohomish