Sunday, June 21, 2009

Legal stuff; PDS and "complaint driven" enforcement

Snohomish county Planning and Development services has a simple answer when you ask why they're enforcing some rule on you, but not apparently on your neighbor. They smile and say "Why, it's because this is a complaint driven process, and we haven't received a complaint about that property".

It sounds reasonable, and since the last thing most people want to do is to have some regulatory agency go after their neighbors, that's where it ends. who wants to cause trouble for folks you have to live with?

The problem with this theory, at least in my case, is that EVERY SINGLE COMPLAINT has been made by a planning and development services employee.

In the picture at the top, that's Roxanne Pilkenton, who, apparently in consultation with a couple of other PDS employees (see the note, per xxx and yyy at the bottom of the form), made the latest complaint. So another complaint is entered by a PDS employee about my property.
When a public agency claims to be impartial, and to be complaint driven, and then does this sort of stuff it erodes confidence in the overall fairness of that agency. Once employees start writing complaints, why aren't they writing complaints about every violation?
The code enforcement officers have had to drive by multiple examples of the same violations they've been whipping me about to take pictures of my property. If PDS is in the business of writing complaints so that they can enforce it, they should be writing complaints in an even-handed manner. There are other properties on each side of mine that have equivalent "violations".
I've been wondering what's going on -- but the explanation is pretty simple. Unequal enforcement sucks. If the rules are important enough to enforce on me, they should be doing the same for all of my neighbors.
If you're going to enforce a law or regulation you cannot be seen as selectively, unfairly enforcing it. This sort of crap is why I don't trust the county government to deal with me fairly and is actually radicalizing me. I am much more motivated to resist every single thing the county does on suspicion and belief that this is a selective enforcement towards some agenda that I'm not privvy to. This will cost them thousands and thousands of dollars that could otherwise be spent on more productive items.


Anonymous said...

Is there any reason to think Pilkenton is out to get you?

The complaint system reminds me of cops and anonymous tips. Some cops will make anonymous tips and reveal information (or just lies) that they obtained improperly (for example, without a search warrant). The anonymous tip allows the police to get (legitimately) a search warrant. If they then find evidence, in the course of the legal search, that makes the charges stick, they've got what they want and are in the clear. If they couldn't make anonymous tips, it wouldn't work.

You have to figure that if people like you unmask the bureaucrats like Pilkenton making the complaints, they'll switch to an anonymous complaint system. Then all you'll see, after you request the documents, is that "anonymous" is out to get you. At least now you know that Pilkenton is the one who doesn't like something that you are doing.

What do you think their problem is, anyway? Are you really doing things so different from your neighbors?

Anonymous said...


Lurker for the past few months; first time commenter.

The Spring 2007 Snohomish County Focus on Farming newsletter describes Ms. Pilkenton as one of:

"[a] team of PDS specialists . . . busy working to preserve farmlands and to sustain the County’s agricultural economy for
years to come."


"To help growers navigate regulatory
processes that are often confusing,
PDS created a dedicated agriculture
planner position now held by Roxanne
Pilkenton. Roxanne assists farmers
with all types of permits and brings in
experts such as engineers, biologists or
critical areas specialists whenever
needed to make sure her customers
have 'full use' of all benefits and
exemptions available to their particular
farm business activity."

I think what you may be doing differently from your neighbors is that you are not availing yourself of the Ag Planner's "special expertise."


Bruce King said...

Roxanne is a reader of this blog - HI ROXANNE! - and I'm pretty clear that there's nothing personal between her and I. but I believe that her interpretation of the laws is far in excess of what other counties in this state who have the exact same requirements are doing. At this narrow extreme interpretation of these laws and regulations has cost me, and other farmers, tens of thousands of dollars of uneccessary expense. In 2007 she might have been helpful to farmers, I've had a very different experience.

An example is this habitat management thing. Snohomish county decided that that was an appropriate response to the declaration that the resident killer whale was an endangered species -- but no other county in washington state is requiring these plans. And snohomish county has not been given promised guidance from FEMA on these permits, but expects random citizens (like me) to figure them out when they don't know themselves what's going on with them.

Anonymous said...

that is scary.

damae said...

Hey, Roxanne, go get a real j-o-b and add to the GNP instead of being a leach and sucking from the taxpayers and real producers like Bruce. Have you looked into the future and what the consequences will be when you actually do accomplish what ever your 'goals' are? What will your family and friends do for food when you have put all the local farmers out of commission? Local food that does not depend on transportation is a good thing. What Bruce is doing is a good thing. Let him be. This will come back and bite you in ways you can't imagine.

I believe the reason they are doing selective enforcement is if they hit everyone at once, there would be an uproar and they'd have to quit, so it's just pick one farmer off at a time.
I'm glad you are doing this blog Bruce, the rest of you in the audience need to realize your turn is coming if you don't speak up about this injustice being served on Bruce. Just wait your turn will come. . . .

Anonymous said...

I have got my first experiance with her I will explian in the future after I am done with my project the filling I have after I talked t her about my project is she intensionally with held information it took me many hours of reading the count code and publication find what I need I will see her again after i armed my self with information.

People's Republic of Lynnwood said...

Good God, Bruce. What a thing to have to go through. This is precisely what comes of small-time, two-bit bureaucrats getting a little taste of power and liking it far too much.

At any rate, you've exposed the bullshit excuse of "complaint-driven" enforcement as the fig leaf that it is, and I hope you can get it to the county's attention. Plaguing county council meetings might be a good start.

You should consider contacting reporters Debra Smith or Mina Williams from the Herald and see whether they or one of her colleagues would consider featuring your case as part of an ongoing series exposing this type of selective harassment by government. It would be a natural follow-up and expansion on their recent coverage of Everett's and Lynnwood's recent expansions of their codes to more easily enable them to harass residents and extract fines.

Please continue to post updates on this issue. I'll be following this one closely.