Ordinance creates the offense of urinating or defecating in public
StoryThe Metropolitan King County Council today adopted an ordinance establishing rules about urinating and defecating in public within unincorporated rural King County. The legislation would make these actions a Class 2 Infraction, which means offenders could be facing fines of up to $125.
“I believe that this bill is a very common-sense solution to an issue that has been challenging the communities in King County’s unincorporated areas,” said Councilmember Kathy Lambert, Chair of the Council’s Law, Justice, Health and Human Services Committee and the sponsor of the ordinance. “It is an additional tool that the King County Sheriff’s Office can use to encourage people to modify their behavior. I introduced this legislation after hearing from many concerned citizens and I’m very pleased that the Council has taken seriously its responsibility to govern in the unincorporated areas.”
While it is a nuisance and there are public health and safety issues involved, currently neither state law nor King County Code makes urinating in public a defined crime except at a transit center or facility. There are 17 cities within King County that have ordinances prohibiting these behaviors, but there is no King County Code section expressly prohibiting urination in public or making it a criminal offense except for transit centers.
This ordinance—which would be in effect in unincorporated rural King County for individuals over the age of 12 years old—will define the offense as performing these acts in public places that are generally visible to public view. “Public place” is defined as an area generally visible to public view and includes streets, sidewalks, bridges, alleys, plazas, parks, driveways, parking lots, vacant land and buildings open to the general public, and the doorways and entrances to buildings or dwellings and the grounds enclosing them.