Letter to the editor: Prosecutor’s office should act against illegal squatters


At what point in time was the Clark County prosecutor granted the power to determine which state laws to enforce and which state laws to ignore? This is the question that I have been asking myself the past several months dealing with a home that my father has owned since 1980 which has been occupied by "squatters" since May 1, 2020. The house had been legally occupied by a single tenant through a lease with the Vancouver Housing Authority who left the residence on April 30, 2020. Since then, no rent received, neighbors complaining of drug dealing, mounting water and garbage bills that the city will look to the property owner to pay and unknown damage being done to the dwelling. The home already had a family wanting to move in but this could not occur after the illegal “invasion.”

I fully understand one's first reaction might be that Gov. Jay Inslee’s eviction moratorium protects “tenants” so there is nothing that you can do. Contrary to this line of thought, although the eviction moratorium does offer protection from eviction, this protection is offered to legal tenants, with a rental contract or lease. Since no attorney at the time would even discuss evicting a “tenant” I thought I had found an answer to the problem. The answer came in the form of two state statutes (RCW 9A.52.105 and RCW 9A.52.115) which were enacted into law in 2017. Briefly, these two statutes allow for a property owner to petition the county sheriff to remove unauthorized persons from a property who have no legal right to be there. Although a number of county sheriff offices in the state have the necessary forms to request such actions to remove unauthorized persons to be removed, I found that the Clark County Sheriff’s Office did not. After a number of phone calls and emails, I was able to speak to the person who oversaw the civil enforcement division. It was explained to me that the Clark County Sheriff’s Office did not offer its services to enforce actions under the statutes in question. When I asked who was responsible for advising the sheriff’s office not to take any action, I was informed it was the Clark County Prosecutor’s Office.

With this knowledge, I sent an email to the prosecutor’s office inquiring into why the laws were not being enforced. The result was silence. If anyone can answer this question I would greatly appreciate it. As for the prosecutor’s office, “can you hear me now?”