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).
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.
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:
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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.