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June 12, 1972
Honorable Martin J. Durkan
State Senator, 47th District
404 Olympic National Building
Seattle, Washington 98104
Cite as: AGLO 1972 No. 96 (not official)
Dear Senator Durkan:
We are in receipt of your letter dated June 1, 1972, in which you have posed the following request:
"Will you please furnish me an opinion as to the constitutionality of an ordinance now on the books of Camas, Washington prohibiting signs being placed on private property even with the owner's consent."
Although you have not supplied us with a copy of the city ordinance in question, we surmise that your request has reference to chapter 9.04 of the codified ordinances of the city of Camas, copy attached. As you will note from a review of this chapter its basic thrust is to establish a permit system for any "poster panel" except those the total display area of which does not exceed five square feet.
We must advise you that policy considerations of long standing in this office will prevent us from providing you with an opinion on the constitutionality of this set of municipal ordinances. The appropriate way for testing the validity of a duly enacted city ordinance is by a declaratory judgment action under the provisions of chapter 7.24 RCW. Among the provisions of this chapter is RCW 7.24.110, which reads as follows:
"When declaratory relief is sought, all persons shall be made parties who have or claim any interest which would be affected by the declaration, and no declaration shall prejudice the rights of persons not parties to the proceeding. In any proceeding which involves the validity of a municipal ordinance or franchise, such municipality shall be made a party, and shall be entitled to be heard, and if the statute, ordinance or franchise is alleged to be unconstitutional, the attorney general shall also be served with a copy of [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] the proceeding and be entitled to be heard." (Emphasis supplied.)
Therefore, if the particular municipal ordinances which you have questioned are challenged in court, the position of the attorney general would have to be one of remaining free to present legal arguments in support of these measures, along with the city attorney of the city in question.
We regret that we are unable to be of any further assistance to you in regard to this matter, but trust that you will understand the reasons for our position with respect thereto.
Very truly yours,
Philip H. Austin
Deputy Attorney General