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AGO 1951 No. 13 -
Attorney General Smith Troy


County commissioners have the authority to license itinerant junk dealers.

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                                                                   April 13, 1951

Honorable Don G. Abel
Prosecuting Attorney
Grays Harbor County
Montesano, Washington                                                                                                       Cite as:  AGO 51-53 No. 13

Attention:  !ttMr. Paul B. Fournier, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney

Dear Sir:

            On March 16, 1951, you requested our opinion as follows:

            "Can the County Commissioners by ordinance license itinerant junk dealers operating periodically within the limits of Grays Harbor County?"

            We conclude that:

            County commissioners may by ordinance license itinerant junk dealers.


            In the case ofSherman, Clay & Company v. Brown, 142 Wash. 37, 252 Pac. 137, the court found valid a Seattle ordinance requiring secondhand businesses to be licensed.  The following words from the opinion are apropos:

            "The first question is whether the city had power to pass such an ordinance.  Section 11 of art. XI of the constitution of this state, among other things, provides that any city 'may make and enforce within its limits all such local, police,  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] sanitary, and other regulations as are not in conflict with general laws.'  With reference to that provision in Detamore v. Hindley, 83 Wash. 322, 145 Pac. 462, it was said:

            "'This is a direct delegation of the police power as ample within its limits as that possessed by the legislature itself.  It requires no legislative sanction for its exercise so long as the subject-matter is local, and the regulation reasonable and consistent with the general laws.'

            "Under the constitutional delegation of authority, the city had power to pass the ordinance.  The regulation of the sale of secondhand goods in a municipality comes within the proper exercise of the police power.  In Ex parte Holmes, 187 Cal. 640, 203 Pac. 398, it is said:

            "'Secondhand goods, wares and merchandise have always been deemed the proper subjects of police regulation by municipalities.'"

            We note the above cited section 11 of art. XI also embraces counties, and that junk and secondhand dealers are engaged in similar, if not identical, occupations.  Therefore, as county commissioners are authorized by chapter 61, p. 99, Laws of 1947 (4056 Rem. Supp. 1947), to "make and enforce, by appropriate resolutions or ordinances, all such police and sanitary regulations as are not in conflict with state law," and as we are unable to locate a state statute relating to the licensing of junk dealers, we are of the opinion that county commissioners may by ordinance license and regulate itinerant junk dealers.  However, the recent case ofRalph v. Wenatchee, 34 Wn. (2d) 638, 209 P. (2d) 270, gives rise to a caution that the proposed ordinance should not discriminate against nonresidents.

Very truly yours,

Attorney General

Assistant Attorney General