Neighbors would be notified of extra pets, under PO ordinance

The city of Port Orchard allows residents to have up to three dogs and up to three cats per household. Licensed kennels are excluded from the pet limit.

But what about the family who moves into town with more than the allowed number of dogs or cats? Or the family that inherits a pet from a family member who moves into a nursing home or dies?

For those folks, the city offers a “pet variance.” Up to now, getting a variance has been a simple matter of filling out a form to document “hardship.” The city council recently revising the ordinance to factor in the impact of extra pets on neighbors.

The original proposal, discussed at an April 16 work-study meeting, was to require written permission from neighbors on either side of the residence slated for bonus pets.

The council discussed the issue of barking dogs, the most obvious potential source of annoyance. The city’s nuisance ordinance prohibits, “frequent, repetitive or continuous noise made by any animal which unreasonably disturbs or interferes with peace comfort and repose of property owners or possessors …,” Licensed kennels, shelters, vet clinics, pet shops and service dogs are exempted.

Councilman John Clauson pointed out that the number of dogs is not always the issue, when it comes to noise.

“You got five dogs that are little quiet dogs that live in the house, and you never see ‘em, I don’t care if you have 10 of ‘em,” Clauson said. “But you could have one sitting in your backyard that howls all night long, and I’m going to be unhappy.”

City Clerk Brandy Rinearson said the city’s contract with the Kitsap Humane Society covers barking dogs and yowling cats. Animal control officers from KHS are contracted to enforce this part of the city’s nuisance ordinance.

Public Works Director Mark Dorsey said health and sanitation also were concerns in allowing people to have more than three of any type of pet.

According to Rinearson, three was a somewhat arbitrary number set by the council that established the pet variance ordinance in 1999. Some cities have different limits (up to five dogs in one town she knows of); others have no ordinance limiting the number of pets allowed.

The council, after some discussion, decided it would be adequate to simply notify neighbors on either side if someone applies for a pet variance. The notification would come before the variance is approved. Members of the public can comment on any city council agenda item at the start of each meeting.

“My heartburn was we were constantly granting these with no process, and so the neighbors didn’t know,” said Councilman Rob Putaansuu. “So for me it’s about notifying the neighbors. I think you notice the issue so they know this is coming before us, and if they’ve got heartburn with it, here’s an opportunity to come and testify.”

The council agreed to place the amended ordinance on an upcoming agenda for formal approval.

Another “process” gap in the city’s code is how to handle the occasional request from a business for after-hours music and other goings-on. Such a request came before the council in early April, when Amy Igloi of Amy’s on the Bay sought permission to play music on her deck after 11 p.m. (the city’s noise curfew).

The city’s nuisance ordinance prohibits a host of public disturbances between the hours of 11 p.m. and 7 a.m., including the sound of machinery and power tools like lawn mowers, blowers, grinders, drills and power saws. The code bans loud vehicles and music from both inside and outside buildings, along with “yelling, shouting, hooting, whistling or singing on or near the public streets” during those hours.

What’s missing, said City Attorney Greg Jacoby, is “a fair and reasonable process that’s applied consistently regardless of who makes the request.”

The city now issues special event permits, reviewed by staff and approved by the council. Jacoby said the council might choose to roll the music-after-hours requests in with special events.

Several people at the meeting raised the concern about “what if” authorized events became a magnet for complaints either because of mismanagement by the business owner or in spite of their best efforts and intentions.

Rinearson said then-Cmdr. Geoffrey Marti, now Port Orchard’s police chief, suggests that such events be allowed on a one-time basis only, not as recurring events.

Marti said his officers get many complaints about noise after 11 p.m., coming from both inside and outside Bay Street establishments.

Two city residents who were at the meeting testified to the remarkable ability of noise to carry up the hill from Bay Street.

“I hear the music all the time. It wakes me up,” said Bek Ashby, who is a member of the Port Orchard Bay Street Association, a business owners group.

The council was in a quandary as to how to proceed on the after-curfew music question. Rinearson offered to see how other cities handle the issue and get back to them at a future meeting.

11 thoughts on “Neighbors would be notified of extra pets, under PO ordinance

  1. I find it interesting that the ordinance for animals only includes in exceptions,Licensed kennels, shelters, vet clinics, pet shops and service dogs are exempt. The boundaries for Port Orchard now includes what has in the past been farms and agriculture. What happens with people that have goats, sheep, chickens, horses, cattle, etc. ?
    In reference to the noise ordinance, I thought that Bek Ashby was a champion of small business. At least that is what I have read in her quest the be elected to the City council. Will you be giving other candidates the same quote and print space ?

  2. Ann – I quoted Bek because she was at he meeting. I believe Kim Punt, who is running for the council, also was as well (at least that’s my recollection – my memory may be failing me). The reason Bek was quoted is that she made a comment on that topic.

    Chris Henry, reporter

  3. Bremerton Municipal code 7.15.001 says “(i)Excess Number of Animals. To own more than a total of four (4) household pets” So Port Orchard allows two more pets per household than Bremerton…

  4. Why is it the business of the town to know how many pets a household has? What is next, how many loud kids are in a household? This is a stupid law/regulation that does nothing. A noise ordnance is all that is needed. You have one pet and it disturbs the neighbors? Pay a fine. Do it again, pay a higher fine… Because some have more than the required # of pets is just plain old government run amok. Dump the pet limit.

    (shaking head at this kind of local government stupid.)

  5. This is the kind of nonsense our brilliant mayor has the people who work for the city focus on – not the real stuff because he doesn’t have a clue about what’s really going on. All he knows is what the puppetmaster tells him.

    As far as this reporter only quoting Bak – she’s the puppetmaster’s choice for council, and it’s obvious this reporter supports the mayor and his puppetmaster, so what do you expect?

  6. Bek,
    Do us all a favor, do not run for Council.

    You are no different than someone moving next to an airport.
    And then goes public to complain about the aircraft noise.

    Thinking like yours, is what makes Bremerton the way it is today.
    There is one downtown {ort Orchard establishment left, that plays outside music.

    And they do not do that everyday.

    Thinking like yours, is what started with the anti-cruising laws in Bremerton back in the mid 1980′s.

    And we can all see, what a great place to be; that downtown Bremerton is today.

    Robin,
    Thanks for the reminder of why I do not live in Bremerton any more.
    Keep up the good work, you will finish off Bremerton one day.

  7. Blaming this on the mayor is silly, do you think he wrote that ordinance? These kinds of ordinances exist in every city in our nation. You may not think it’s the city’s business how many dogs someone has until you move next door to someone with an illegal puppy mill. Or a cat hoarder with hundreds of diseased cats roaming the neighborhood.

    I keep a nice garden in my yard and I put up with people letting their cats and dogs run loose. My wife has been pinned in our back yard by two pit bulls, a miniature Pincher leaves tiny poo in my yard and barks at me, sickly looking neighbor cats dig up my garden beds while my dog is kept indoors and I clean up his poop myself. I don’t want someone moving into my neighborhood with five cats and six dogs, if you want that in Port Orchard you’re welcome to it.

    For the record my neighbors who keep chickens are more responsible pet owners than a majority of cat or dog owners.

  8. Jack, I explained why I used Bek Ashby’s quote. As I said, I think Kim Punt (who is running against Bek) was at the meeting, but she didn’t speak on the topic. In my opinion, quoting Ashby in a blog post doesn’t equate to implied or tacit support of her campaign for city council or for the mayor.

    If you attend a council meeting and make a relevant comment, maybe I’ll quote you, too.

    Chris Henry, reporter

  9. I don’t live in the city limits of Port Orchard but would like to see a city ordinance banning dogs( except PROVEN medically needed dogs) from festivals and parades.

    My Sheltie is not in the category of aggressive breed, but I find no need to bring him around groups of people where he may be out of his comfort zone. Even though my fun- loving Yellow Lab was just a big lap dog, I could never guarantee that he woudn’t suddenly become aggressive if provoked.

    Areas of Southern California ban dogs from events where there will be crowds of people and in specific parks. The City of Port Orchard should do the same before an incident takes place at one of the city’s events.

    City council?

  10. I agree with Doug. Is it really anyone’s business if someone has a 4 cats? I appreciate the work of elected officials (heck, I am one in another arena), but I think we are all being over-ordinanced and over-protected from ourselves. I’d like our electeds (local, state, and federal) to consider less prescription and more strategic vision.

    ——
    Here is the ordinance, from the following website:
    http://www.codepublishing.com/wa/portorchard/

    7.12.090 Animal ownership restrictions.
    The number of dogs or cats at a single-family dwelling unit shall be restricted to a total of three dogs and/or cats, except this restriction shall not apply to owners or operators of a duly licensed hobby kennel. A request for variance from ownership restrictions, as stated in this section, may be submitted to the city council. A variance request must be based upon the existence of a situation by which the restriction would create an undue hardship. (Ord. 1750 § 6, 1999).
    ——-

    Lastly, I will acknowledge that I do not yet live within the city limits. Perhaps when I am eventually annexed in or if I move into the city limits then I’ll run for a seat at the table to engage more strategic vision and less prescription. Until then, I’m counting on those that are elected to govern with strategic vision instead of being distracted by counting pets.

  11. In regard to the evolving “Quote-gate” about Chris reporting Bek Ashby’s comments and that implying support, I have to laugh.

    Reporters report. When a candidate speaks at a meeting of the body to which they wish to be elected, then it is news to report. Not because the reporter likes or dislikes them, but because it gives the voters an opportunity to know where the candidate stand on issues (even pet issues… pun intended) and that is news.

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