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