Committee discusses additions to Poulsbo’s municipal code

POULSBO — There may not yet be a new police chief in town, but the list of laws enforced by the Poulsbo Police Department is about to get a little bit longer. In a Public Safety Committee meeting Wednesday, more than 50 new additions to the Poulsbo Municipal Code (PMC) were discussed, among them parking regulations, graffiti issues and cat licensing.

“This is an effort to bring ordinances up to date to give us options for enforcement,” said Interim Chief of Police Jake Evans. “We’ve tried to be as comprehensive as possible and make all the changes in one fell swoop.”

Included in the additions are Revised Codes of Washington (RCWs) which can currently be policed by local authorities but must be taken up with county courts. Adding them to the PMC will allow the city’s judge to preside over more issues, reducing the need for Poulsbo’s officers to travel for court appointments.

Councilman Dale Rudolph said the new codes aren’t being put in place to gain more revenue from fines, but instead to allow police to address citizens who abuse the regulations.

“It’s not primarily a money issue,” he said. “The basic philosophy is that there’s 10,000 laws in the books. Really they’re there (to prevent) abuse.”

The new codes include parking regulations with $25 penalties. Previous parking violations garnered fees starting at $10, but even with the increase, Poulsbo still remains on the lower end of the parking fine spectrum. Bremerton’s parking fees can reach $150 and most of Bainbridge Island’s hit the $30 mark or above.

Also added are crimes of cruelty to animals, including the abandonment of dogs, and the requirement for all cats to be registered, similar to the way dogs are licensed now. Failure to license a cat could result in a $250 fine. The new codes also create the ability for local officers to take possession of boats when necessary, and makes it a crime to cross designated police, fire or public works areas during an emergency.

“We’re putting things in front of you that we think are going to fly, but the lawyer has to approve it,” Evans said to the committee. “It’s more or less housekeeping.”

Evans said he would take into account the policy advice given by the committee, and will make revisions to the code before submitting it to the city attorney. Suggestions made by the committee included changing the age of children not allowed to be left alone in a vehicle from 10 to 6 years. The committee also expressed the desire to find a way to keep parked cars off neighborhood streets.

“It creates a real hazard, especially in a neighborhood with kids,” Rudolph said.

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