Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

AGO 2014 NO. 2 >


  1. Initiative 502, which establishes a licensing and regulatory system for marijuana producers, processors, and retailers, does not preempt counties, cities, and towns from banning such businesses within their jurisdictions.
  2. Local ordinances that do not expressly ban state-licensed marijuana licensees from operating within the jurisdiction but make such operation impractical are valid if they properly exercise the local jurisdiction’s police power.
AGO 1976 NO. 7 >

Except as provided for in RCW 35.27.270, RCW 35.27.330, RCW 35.33.081 and RCW 35.33.091, an ordinance of a fourth class city (town) may be enacted pursuant to the affirmative vote of a majority of the council present at a particular council meeting at which a quorum is present even though the total number of members thus voting for the ordinance constitutes less than a majority of the total membership of the town council.

AGO 1967 NO. 7 >

Under existing federal and state law, there is considerable doubt as to the authority of a county when enacting an ordinance establishing regulations pertaining to speed and manner of operation of motorboats to include therein a provision that motorboats may not be used on waters of the particular county unless numbered in accordance with a registration requirement of that county or of some other county or state having a similar registration requirement.

AGO 1961 NO. 13 >

A warrant of arrest issued by a municipal judge of a city of the fourth class charging a violation of a town ordinance is not valid for service outside the corporate limits of the town.

AGO 1970 NO. 14 >

A subdivision of land containing no dedication and no lots or tracts smaller than five acres in size may be made subject to the provisions of chapter 271, Laws of 1969, Ex. Sess., if the county, city or town in which the land is situated enacts an ordinance so providing and it is not necessary that such an ordinance shall have been enacted prior to the effective date of the 1969 act.

AGO 1990 NO. 15 >

Certain statutes set forth requirements that are triggered by the adoption or passage of an ordinance. Unless otherwise provided, these requirements apply to the passage or adoption of an ordinance by an interim council created by RCW 35.02.130, even though such an ordinance will not go into effect until the date of incorporation.

AGO 1992 NO. 16 >

RCW 35.22.288 provides that the ordinances of first class cities, or a summary thereof, shall be promptly published in the official newspaper of the city.  However, an ordinance is not invalid under RCW 35.22.288 if it is not published within a specified number of days.

AGO 1968 NO. 32 >

A third class city in the state of Washington is not authorized to enact an ordinance granting a perpetual (irrevocable) franchise to a railroad company to permit the railroad to lay its tracks and spur lines across city streets and rights-of-way and to operate its trains across said tracks and spur lines.

AGO 1957 NO. 98 >

A municipal ordinance amending a prior ordinance may not be construed and applied retroactively unless a contrary intention is manifested by the most clear and unequivocal expression.

AGO 1955 NO. 174 >

Ordinances of a city of the third class must be published at least once in the city's official newspaper, if there be one, and if there be no official newspaper, then in some other newspaper published in the city, and if there be no newspaper published in the city then it must be published or posted in at least three public places in such city in such manner as the city council may direct.