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 Common Code Enforcement Questions and Violations

Here are some common code enforcement questions. Remember, the city wants to help resolve these issues without conflict. Providing this information is part of that ongoing effort. After each question are links to the relevant parts of the Ferndale Municipal Code (FMC). You will notice this list is littered with “yes, but” or “no, but” sort of answers. Each situation is different and here at the City we try to avoid giving an absolute yes or absolute no without considering the situation.

Can I operate a business out of my home?
Yes, but only under certain circumstances. If you wish to conduct a business from your home, you must apply for a Home Occupation Permit, as well as a City of Ferndale business license. Applications for both can be obtained at City Hall or by using our Forms page here. Home Occupation Permits are allowed in a majority of residential zones.  More information at FMC 18.14.010 and FMC 5.04.030.

Do I need a business license to conduct a garage sale, lawn sale, attic sale, rummage sale, or flea market sale?
No, but there are limits to how many events of this nature you may conduct in a year. The casual sale of personal property may be conducted a maximum of three times a year. Each sale may not exceed three days. More information at FMC 5.04.100.

Do I need a permit to conduct a special event, and post signs for the event?
Yes. A Special Event Application needs to be submitted to the City 45 days prior to the event. In addition, temporary sign permits needs to be obtained for each sign being posted advertising the event. Both applications can be obtained from City Hall or online on our Forms page here.

We are a non-profit, and wish to conduct a fundraising event; do we need a traditional business license?
No, but you will need an event permit. The Treasurer shall be authorized to issue special permits, without payment of any license fees or other charges therefore, to any person or organization for the conduct or operation of a nonprofit enterprise, either regularly or temporarily, when he finds that the applicant operates without private profit as a nonprofit organization as defined in FMC 5.04.020(E). However, a profit organization operating under the sponsorship of a nonprofit organization shall pay all applicable license fees and charges.

But what about my RV?

But what about my RV?

Can I store my recreational vehicle (RV) on my residential property?
Yes, but there are conditions. RVs can only be parked on the side of residential homes and must be at least three feet away from the side of the home. Additionally, there must be five feet of clearance between the RV and property line. Lastly, the RV may not extend beyond the front of the home or carport. Some subdivisions may have specific rules against the storage of recreational vehicles. More information at FMC 15.20.040 and FMC 8.08.040.

Can I live in a recreational vehicle (RV) on my property?
The only place where people can live in RVs within Ferndale is within designated and approved camping or trailer parks. This is to ensure that residents are able to access water, electricity, and sewer services safely. However, occasional or temporary visitors may stay on the property in a recreational vehicle granting that the stay is no longer than 15 days in a 12 month period. More information at FMC 8.08.040 and FMC 18.76.040.

How tall can grass be? Grass and other types of plants or vegetation are not to grow in an unmaintained or uncontrolled manner. Grasses that are not irrigated are not to exceed six inches in length on parcels one acre or less. More information at FMC 08.08.080(B) and FMC 8.08.090 (L)3.b

How many cars can I have parked on my property? Property owners are allowed to park up to a maximum of six vehicles at any one time outside of a garage on a single family residential lot. More information at FMC 8.08.040.

Are inoperable or scrap vehicles allowed on my property? The storage of abandoned, wrecked, dismantled or junk vehicles are allowed to be stored on private property, only if they are completely enclosed by a building, and cannot be seen from the street or from other public or private property. More information at FMC 8.08.060.

What about chickens?

What kind of animals am I allowed to have on my property? Only domestic animals and domestic fowl are allowed within the City of Ferndale. The City of Ferndale defines a domestic animal as, “an animal that has been tamed and kept by humans as a work animal, food source or pet”. Domestic fowl “means chickens hens, ducks, geese, turkeys, quail, pigeons, doves and other birds kept chiefly for their eggs, flesh and/or pleasure. Exotic animals and livestock are prohibited. If you have a question about your pet, please feel free to contact us; 360-685-2365. More information at FMC 6.02.020 and FMC 6.02.207.

Are chickens allowed within city limits? Up twelve adult domestic fowl, including chicken hens, are allowed on single family residential properties less than ½ acre. There is no upper limit to the number of adult animals that may be kept on properties greater than ½ acre. No roosters, peacocks or guinea fowl are allowed. More information at FMC 6.02.207.

How many dogs may I have in my home? Up to four dogs, four months or older, are allowed within a single family home. More information at FMC 6.02.035.

How many cats may I have in my home? Up to four cats, three months or older, are allowed within a single family home. More information at FMC 6.02.053.

Do I need a permit to build a shed, fence, covered structure, green house, or deck on my property? Yes. You can apply for a permit at City Hall. You can also access permit applications on the City of Ferndale website. Some fences and sheds are exempt from needing a permit. Please contact City Hall if you are interested in building a shed, fence, covered structure, green house, or deck. More information at FMC 1.12.020 and  FMC 15.04.030.

Can I service my car on my residential property? Yes, you can perform minor servicing of your car at your home. However, one car may be serviced at a time, and service must be conducted on the designated driveway, or within an enclosed permanent structure like a garage. Servicing of a car may not exceed a one time period of five days. In addition you must be the registered owner of any car you service. Minor servicing of cars may be conducted from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. More information at FMC 8.08.040

Bad idea!

Bad idea!

Who should I contact if I see someone dumping something into a catch basin, ditch, creek or other body of water? The City’s “Prohibited Discharge hotline” is (360) 685-2357 or contact our Stormwater team by email

Can I wash my car in my driveway? As long as no wash water is getting into the stormwater system or any nearby waterway.  Salmon and other wildlife don’t want to swim in soap and grime from your car. It’s best to wash at a commercial car wash where water is recycled. More information at FMC 13.35.010(E)14,15.

Can I dispose of my yard waste in the ditch behind my house? It’s all green, right?  No. That ditch is part of the City’s stormwater system and is connected to local waterbodies.  Yard waste may contain fertilizers, and decaying plant matter robs oxygen from aquatic life and/or fish downstream. More information at FMC 13.35.010(E)13,25.

Can I pressure wash my house, sidewalk or business? As long as no detergent is being used and you can prove you are not causing a violation of water quality standards (turbidity of discharge under 25 NTU, chlorine concentration of .1ppm or less) if the discharge is conveying to the stormwater system.  It’s best to plug any nearby catch basins and pump water into a grassy area. More information at FMC 13.35.10 (B)4

Do I have to scoop my pet waste? Yes! You are required to pick up pet waste in the public domain.  On your own property, you just have to ensure that no pet waste is entering the stormwater system (ditches or otherwise).  Pet and animal wastes harbor fecal coliform bacteria which is not good for water quality.  Scoop the poop, bag it and throw it in the trash. More information at FMC 13.35.010(E)19.

How long can I park my car on a City street? No person shall park a vehicle in any location upon a street or right-of-way for more than 24 hours. If you are concerned about a vehicle that has exceeded its parking limit, please contact the Police Department and dial 911. Make sure to state that it is not an emergency and have ready the vehicle’s location, make, model, color, and license and registration information. More information at FMC 10.08.050.

I just take my trash to the dump. Do I need garbage service? Yes. It is a City requirement for each household within City limits to have an active account with Sanitary Service Company SSC. Their phone number is 360.734.3490. More information at FMC 8.04.070.

I am having problems with my landlord. What do I do? Disputes with a landlord are resolved by following the process outlined by the Landlord Tenant Act. For more information visit Washington Law Help.