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Rats rattle resident

Robert Pearson has lived in Federal Way for 39 years, and it was not until recently that he has seen rats making themselves at home on his property.

After he witnessed a rat pass across his doorstep several times in one day, Pearson decided to take the issue up with the Federal Way City Council.

At a June 19 council meeting, Pearson, suspecting the rats were attracted to the area because of his neighbors' garbage, gave public comment about the problem and requested the city further look into why some of his neighbors were not using a garbage can to store their trash outside.

Pearson said he was unsure as to whether the neighbors realized that their garbage could be attracting rats.

He spends much of his day at home and sees the rodents scavenging about. But people at work or away from home may not even realize that their garbage is attracting the creatures, he said in an interview.

Pearson is hesitant to put out rat traps because his property is often visited by squirrels, and he does not wish to harm them, he said.

Following the meeting, the issue was addressed by city code compliance officers, said public works director Cary Roe.

The city gets a lot of complaints about garbage and junk materials, and rats are not rare in any city, code compliance officer Becky Lemke said. However, the city does have rules and regulations as to how and when trash must be disposed, Lemke said.

As required by city code, residents' garbage must be kept in a tightly-closed container and disposed of at least once a week, she said. This does not mean that one is required to subscribe to the city's garbage disposal service; the garbage may be disposed of at a landfill instead, she said.

However, if the garbage is not being picked up by Waste Management (the company Federal Way contracts with to dispose of waste materials), and it is not being dumped at a landfill, a city code compliance officer may contact that resident regarding the violation, Lemke said.

Upon receiving a complaint about a violation of chapter 22 of the Federal Way Municipal Code, a code compliance officer will visit the site that generated the complaint, Lemke said.

The property owner will be reminded, either in person or by mail, of the ordinance and will have two weeks to correct the problem.

If city code is not being followed after two weeks, a $100-per-day fine for violating the code will be put into effect until the property meets standards outlined in the ordinance, Lemke said.

Pearson has not noticed garbage exposed in his neighbors' yards lately, he said. He hopes this means the rats will now leave his neighborhood.

Contact Jacinda Howard at jhoward@fedwaymirror.com or at (253) 925-5565.

To make a complaint about improper disposal of junk or garbage, call (253) 835-2617. The issue will be addressed, but the city asks that residents be patient due to the fact that the city only employs three code compliance officers.

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