Fence bill dies in committee

A House bill prompted by a Twin Lakes resident who built a fence on his property to keep his toddler son from falling into Lake Lorene died in the House Judiciary Committee last week.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Mark Miloscia, D-Federal Way, would have compelled home owners associations to allow property owners to build fences for safety purposes, though it preserved the right of associations to approve design and construction.

Miloscia said committee chairwoman Pat Lantz, D-Gig Harbor, wouldn’t bring the bill to a vote to pass it out of committee. Lantz could not be reached for comment by press time.

Still, Miloscia is undeterred.

“I only had one day to convince her to change her mind,” he said. “Now I have a year.”

He said there’s an understood three-year rule in Olympia — bills usually take about three years to get enough support to become law. This was House Bill 2490’s first time around.

“With the short session and the mad-cap frenzy here, it’s almost impossible to get things through the first time. It has to be almost perfect,” Miloscia said. “It takes time to work through the legislative process and get people to see it your way.”

Miloscia sponsored the bill after Erick Hall contacted him about a fence he built on his property in 1999 with verbal approval from the Twin Lakes Home Owners Association.

Fences are allowed in the home owners association covenants, but home owners have to get written approval prior to building them.

Hall admits he never received written approval for his fence, but said because of the nature of the verbal approval he received, he didn’t expect his fence to become a problem.

Hall has refused to take down the fence so, last December, the Twin Lakes Home Owners Association sued him.

Home Owner’s Association president Greg Eklund did not return phone calls from the Mirror.

Hall said he was disappointed the bill died, but said he was impressed by how quickly the legislative system responded to his proposal. His call to Miloscia and House Bill 2490 was his first attempt at legislative action.

“Wow, what a learning experience,” he said. “The wheels move if you push them.”

He and Miloscia had prepared some amendments to the bill in the hope they would help the bill out of committee, but the deadline passed before they introduce the additions. Still, Hall said he would keep working on it.

“I’d love to take another stab at it,” he said. “The goal is to make a bill that works.”

Miloscia said he’s willing to support a similar bill again next year as long as his constituents want him to.

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