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Government at the local, city and/or county level(s) has a significant impact on the day-to-day operations of businesses. Cities, counties, port districts, public utility districts, school districts, sewage districts,a nd state agencies have a significant impact on the ability of businesses to operate and maintain profitability, and individuals (and their families) to live their lives.

Consequently, it is important for businesses to ensure compliance with city and county ordinances (as well as state regulations and laws), and similarly obtain and maintain required licenses and permits from the city and/or county in which it operates, and be cognizant of land use and zoning regulations of the location in which the business operates. Similarly, businesses must be cognizant of a proximate business obtaining a permit and commerncing operations that negatively impacts their business.

The enforcement of ordinances, fees and taxes by local government entities (e.g. cities, counties, etc.) can be inconsistent and sometimes even targeted at a specific business and/or its owner. The inconsistent enforcement is often motivated by politics and/or an employee’s personal animosity towards a business even if there is no legal justification for doing so. Furthermore, local government entities may intentionally and/or unintentionally fail to comply with applicable states laws, such as the Washington State Public Records Act. These are one of many reasons why there are often headlines in local news about local government engaging in illegal and/or unethical actions, and/or being a party to a lawsuit.

JFM Law is available to assist businesses and individuals with navigating and resolving disputes with cities, counties and local government entities on a variety of issues including zoning, fees and taxes, land use, building code compliance, occupancy permits, and other legal matters. As with administrative actions taken by state and federal government agencies, actions taken by cities, counties, and other local entities may not be well grounded in fact or in law, and may be illegal,  and cost a business thousands of dollars in lost revenue.

Consequently, when a business or individual has uncertainty about its relationship with the city, county or local government entity, it is advisable for it to seek legal counsel to assess their rights, and options.

Among other areas, JFM Law provides legal counsel on:

  • Land Use: Land use ordinances and development permits

  • Real Estate: Property taxes, eminent domain, and zoning issues

  • Small Business: Local business licenses, and ordinance compliance 

  • Taxes: Property and various other taxes imposed by counties and municipalities

  • Public Records: Local government entities are subject to the Washington State Public Records Act, however, their compliance with the act is often subpar if not illegal

  • K-12 Education:  Public school districts, including disability discrimination, Individual Education Plans (IEP), 504 Plans, student free speech rights, and harassment from other students and staff/teachers


Attorney Joel Murray is versed with helping businesses navigate these scenarios. If you and/or your business are in a dispute with or facing uncertainty regarding issues with a city, county or local government entity, and/or have been adversely affected an action by a city, county and/or local government entity, please contact JFM Law today for a consultation so that your options can be evaluated.

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