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Kent notifies sex offender group home operators they must shut down or face fines
The Kent City Attorney's office on Monday notified operators of 10 group homes, and the homes' property owners, they must comply with the city code pertaining to group housing of sex offenders.
The action comes after numerous attempts to obtain voluntary compliance with the city's zoning regulations.
Acting city attorney Pat Fitzpatrick says the city code closely regulates the location of sex offender group housing.
"These regulations have been in effect for a number of years. City code prohibits sex offender group homes from locating within 1,000 feet of schools, churches, parks, playgrounds and residential areas. They also cannot be located within 600 feet of another sex offender group home," Fitzpatrick said. "All of the group home operators and property owners who have received the notices are in violation of one or more of these regulations."
Last spring, the city became aware that numerous single-family rental homes were being used to house multiple sex offenders within prohibited areas. On May 2, the city notified the owners they were not in compliance with the city's zoning code. The owners were given 30 days to bring the use of the homes into compliance with the law.
Fitzpatrick said it was during the 30-day time period the city learned that most of the group homes were being operated by independent businesses who rented the homes from local property owners.
"After receiving requests for additional time, we extended the deadline for compliance another 60 days, with the understanding that the owners and operators would voluntarily comply by July 31," Fitzpatrick said. "In total, we've given them four months to stop the illegal use of the homes and to assist their residents to find alternative housing.
"As of today, there is no indication these owners or operators intend to comply with the law; therefore, we must take this necessary legal step to enforce it," Fitzpatrick said.
Owners and operators will have until the first week of September to comply with the city code and to reduce or eliminate the number of sex offenders living in these homes. Fitzpatrick says if they fail to take the necessary steps to bring the homes into compliance, the city may opt to file suit in King County Superior Court or pursue code violation actions which carry a fine of $500 per day.