Eight years of 'hoarder' house trouble could lead to jail time

MARYSVILLE, Wash. -- Nearly a decade of complaints, calls and emails and Ellen Broadland still sees old cups stuffed into a truck across the street.

Wendy and other neighbors have compared the house they see to one out of the TV show "Hoarders," with trash stuffed into trucks and tarps over long-forgotten vehicles.

"And when he cannot fit in the driver's seat anymore, he parks them and gets another one," Broadland said.

"Would you want to live here?" Arlie Carstens asked. They are upset because they have hounded the county and the city of Marysville for years.

The city says it is a costly process for following up on fines, citations and assistance.

Paul Rochon with the Marysville code enforcement said the home is out of compliance, but that the rules of the system keep his hands tied.

"As long as we see improvement, an action being taken, we'll work with them," he said.

The process has been slow.

The Problem Solvers obtained nearly 300 pages of case files. The documents show the city first dealt with the house in March, 2010 and issued its first violation more than a year later.

The county sent six letters and continued getting responses for months, saying time and again that the fast food cups and old newspapers are actually donations.

"Our first option is to always work with the people, trying to get voluntary compliance and that sort of stuff," Rochon said.

That also means complaints languish for years at the discretion of the department.

Another letter from March, 2012 said the clean-up was of the "utmost importance," yet code enforcement waited a year and a half for another citation.

The neighbors like Broadland hate it. "We just keep getting the same story," she said.

KOMO 4 tried learning what was happening, but the homeowners stayed inside the house.

The man who lives in the home called later and said he was a military vet and that they both had serious health problems and that contributed to the years of delays.

There is now a court case pending because of all the problems and lack of follow-through, and the couple could face thousands of dollars in fines or 90 days in jail.

The city actually re-wrote the laws of Marysville to make this kind of public nuisance a crime. "That's one of the reasons we've sort of changed the code is because of this place," Rochon said.

Neighbors and the city said there could be health and safety concerns for the man and woman living in the home. There have been welfare checks on them in the past, and so far there is no need for intervention yet.

Their court date coming up in March is nearly four years to the day of the first complaint in Marysville.