Pierce County has identified nearly 2,100 illegal garages, sheds and other improvements under a new program that uses aerial photographs to find structures built without a permit.
More than 200 property owners have sought amnesty for their illegal buildings under a county planning department program that began in October.
Those are some of the details included in a new report on the planning department’s “building amnesty program.”
Under that program, the county compares aerial photographs taken in 2005 and 2008 to find new buildings and identify those that were built without a permit.
The planning department then contacts property owners to offer them a deal: The department will waive fines for the illegal structures if the owners pay fees, obtain the building permits and get the inspections they should have gotten in the first place.
So far, the county has reviewed photographs of nearly 74,000 acres, mostly in the mid-county area, the Key Peninsula and Fox Island.
County officials say program will improve public safety by requiring inspections for structures that weren’t examined when they were built.
But one County Council member says using aerial photographs to catch permit scofflaws may be an invasion of privacy. Council members also wonder whether the program will generate as much money as expected.
Update: This post originally stated that there will be a full article on the building amnesty program in Thursday’s News Tribune. Looks like it’s going to hold until at least Friday. A lot of stories competing to get in the paper tomorrow.