Code Talk

Constructing a Proper Zoning Code

Last week’s blog entry addressed code numbering, and how a three-decimal numbering scheme is Code Publishing Company’s preferred format. We mentioned how there are similarities across multiple codes, including municipalities hundreds of miles away from each other. Where codes often deviate is the zoning chapter. These codes go by one of a few names: Development Code, Zoning Code, Planning Code, or a combination of those terms (e.g., Planning and Development). Read More →

PDF Pricing

As cities and counties continue to move further away from physical copies of municipal codes, Code Publishing Company still provides printable versions of each code to its customers. While many customers choose not to have copies printed through CPC, they are provided with PDF files of the current full code, along with corresponding individual supplements. This saves both the customer and CPC a lot of time, as it allows customers to do in-house printing at their discretion.

It also saves customers money, because Code Publishing provides PDF files for free. This isn’t the case with some of our competitors, who may charge $150 or more – to their own customers – for the same service. The high fees are a result of competitors offering low cost editorial services. The low cost is offset by the PDF file pricing, which is passed along to non-jurisdiction subscribers who order print copies of full codes and updates.

Code Publishing has never employed this sales method, and has managed to remain competitive in the industry. Considering online codes are the new norm, paying high fees for PDF files – no matter the reason – is becoming increasingly unnecessary. Also, remember our previous post about how to obtain a copy of an old version of a code? Code Publishing also provides PDF files of those full codes, as well as individual supplements, to customers free of charge.

How to Employ an Effective Code Numbering Scheme

Managing a large document such as a municipal code requires a numbering scheme that is efficient for both users – government, law firms, developers, etc. – and editors who update the books. For this reason, Code Publishing Company employs a three-factor decimal numbering scheme that makes amending and referencing the code a much easier task. Here’s how CPC’s numbering scheme breaks down: Read More →

Need a Copy of an Old Code? Code Publishing Has You Covered

Code Publishing Company turns 27 next year, and, as you might imagine, that means we’ve done a lot – a lot – of code updates over the years. Customers may update their codes weekly, monthly, annually, once every few years, or a handful of times per year. No matter how many times a code is updated, CPC keeps copies of old versions on hand, either on our server (as PDF files) or as physical manuscripts that date back to the 1990s.

A little over a decade ago, as scanning technology improved, CPC went exclusively electronic for archiving manuscripts. Rather than stuff ordinances and their corresponding updated code pages into boxes, we decided to scan them into our server in order to conserve office space and make referencing much easier. Recently, CPC added a state-of-the-art scanner that can scan two duplexed (double-sided) pages per second. In 2003, archiving a 500-page code could take an entire week. Today, it can be done in time for lunch.

Code Publishing keeps old codes for a few reasons. First, they are readily available in order to research mistakes. From time to time, customers will notice a mistake (or, what they perceive to be a mistake). Having old code versions on site allows CPC editors to review old materials and either make an appropriate correction, or determine that no error was made.

Older codes are also helpful for developers and engineers, whose work must comply with zoning regulations. Zoning codes, like city codes, change over time as well. However, many older buildings and houses are grandfathered into past regulations. In these cases, developers need to reference older codes in order to override current standards.

Obtaining copies of the old code is one phone call (or e-mail) away, as CPC provides old copies free of charge to its customers. If for some reason we don’t have it (because it’s just that old), the University of Washington Law Library has a readily available archive for most Washington jurisdictions. Other states with Federal depository libraries may also have older versions of municipal codes.

To obtain a copy of an old code, call 1-800-551-2633, or e-mail

Weird Laws: An Explanation

If you’ve ever spent an afternoon killing time on the Internet, it’s possible you’ve come across a list of weird laws from around the United States. The only problem with lists (like this one) is that they don’t provide much context, if any.

E-Cigarette Bans: The Next Step in the War on Tobacco

Legislation relaxing marijuana laws has swept across America over the last 20 years, while there has been a noticeable shift in the opposite direction regarding tobacco laws. Not only has legislation affected tobacco product sales, but the past 20 years has seen an increase in states restricting smokers from, you know, actually smoking – going so far as to tell them where they can smoke. When the state of California passed the nation’s first indoor smoking ban in 1995, it opened the floodgates for many states to come. In 2012, North Dakota became the 28th state to enact an indoor smoking ban.

Recreational Marijuana Movement Takes On the Heartland

Welcome to CodeTalk, the blog about all things Code Publishing Company. CodeTalk will cover a broad range of topics related to codification, including industry trends and technology, as well as highlight legislative issues at the city, county and state level.

When voters in Washington and Colorado approved ballot initiatives in November 2012 legalizing recreational sales and possession of marijuana, it didn’t come as a major shock. In addition to favorable poll numbers heading into election night, both states were on the forefront of approving marijuana for medical use – Washington in 1998, Colorado in 2000 – so it made sense that the two would pioneer the push for nation-wide legalization. Similar to how alcohol laws vary by state (and from county to county), Washington and Colorado handled their marijuana legalization efforts in different ways.