Code Compliance

Andy Back, Planning and Development Services Division Manager

Code Compliance with land use and building codes is the responsibility of the Department of Land Use & Transportation - Planning & Development Services Division. When a development does not conform to the County Building Code, the Community Development Code, required conditions of approval, or a land use is established that is not allowed within the land use district in which it is located, the Planning & Development Services Code Compliance division works with property owners to bring those developments or land uses into conformance.

First step is to work with the property owner to achieve 'voluntary compliance.' If voluntary compliance efforts fail, the County may proceed with further measures that could include a hearing before the Hearings Officer, fines and/or liens on a property. 

The primary goal of Code Compliance is to protect the health, safety, and well being of all property owners by ensuring that all development in unincorporated areas of Washington County occur within the limits set within the Community Development Code and Building Code

 

Code Compliance Enforcement

In the Current Planning section, Code Compliance addresses reported violations to the Community Development Code within unincorporated Washington County (areas outside of city boundaries). It regulates the development and use of property, and enforces the conditions placed on development. It also regulates home businesses, including 'kennels' with 5 or more dogs, vehicle storage and RV use, development conducted without a permit, and development activities conducted within a flood plain. 

The Building Services section enforces the Washington County Building Code for structural, plumbing, and electrical issues, as well as enforces the issuance of building permits. This section is responsible for addressing code conformance for abandoned/nuisance buildings when they are found to be a life and safety issue.

 

Current Planning / Land Use Code Compliance Priorities

Code Compliance staff will generally respond to potential code violations based on the priority ranking listed below. The priority may be adjusted based on available resources or aggravating circumstances.

Priority 1 Violations

These violations involve land use activities that impact environmental/natural resources (irreparable harm may take place if not corrected), pose significant health and safety issues or involve structures under construction that do not meet Code standards.

  • Flood Plain and Drainage Hazard Area disturbances (including but not limited to grading and construction of roadway crossings)
  • Tree/vegetation removal within Significant Natural Resource areas
  • Dwelling(s) without a permit
  • Accessory structure without permit in the Exclusive Forest Conservation District
  • Setback issues for dwellings or accessory buildings under construction
  • Compliance with conditions of development permits (i.e. conditions of approval)
  • Sight distance violations

 

Priority 2 Violations

These violations involve activities that disturb the livability of the community or pose a lower health and safety risk.  Health and safety issues would cause the violations to be designated a higher priority.

  • Grading  without permits in all districts except as specifically listed
  • Commercial/Industrial activities without permits (includes home occupations and agricultural buildings converted to non-agricultural uses)
  • Outdoor parking or storage of five or more inoperable vehicles or parts thereof (defined as auto wrecking)

 

Priority 3 Violations

These violations usually do not involve safety issues, may have visual impacts but are hard to enforce (i.e. signs) or does not cause irreparable harm (agricultural building without permit).

  • Accessory structures exceeding the dimensional standards in all districts except as specifically listed
  • Setback issues for existing structures in all districts except as specifically listed
  • Parking or storage of commercial vehicles, heavy equipment in a residential district
  • Fence or retaining wall height issues
  • Miscellaneous Code violations

 

Priority 4 Violations

These types of violations happen fairly infrequently, and if they do occur, there is no irreparable harm of life safety issues involved.  Many times these violations are ultimately civil issues between the parties.

  • Keeping of fowl for sale or swine in the urban area
  • Unlawful land divisions
  • Signs

 

How to Submit a Complaint

Code Compliance in Washington County is a complaint-driven program. Code Compliance staff rely on the public to notify Land Use & Transportation if they believe a Code violation (land use or building) exists. 

Prior to filing a complaint, review the Code Compliance Process flowchart. This document outlines the steps to compile the complaint, gather evidence and submit the completed complaint form, along with any supporting materials, such as images or photos of the alleged violation. Washington County Code Compliance will take action to address the violation.

Complete the Form

Open the Code Violation fillable complaint form, complete your report and save the file to your computer. You can then print the complaint form and submit it via fax, mail it or drop-if off at the address noted below. Another option includes submitting the completed report as an attachment to an email sent to PDSCodeCompliance@co.washington.or.us.

A complaint form can be submitted anonymously if there is a fear of retaliation from the violator. To do so, type 'anonymous' within the area where your name is requested.
 

Submit Your Complaint

  • Fax: Send completed form to (503) 846-2908.
  • Email: PDSCodeCompliance@co.washington.or.us
  • Mail or Submit in Person:
    • Washington County Land Use & Transportation
    • Planning and Development Services - Code Compliance
    • 155 N. First Ave., Suite #350-13, Hillsboro, OR  97124
  • Call: You can also call our office for instructions about how to complete your report at (503) 846-4875