The City of Chehalis filed a lawsuit against entities involved with the Yard Birds Shopping Center on Wednesday after the mall failed to come into compliance with a number of city code violations.
Specifically, the lawsuit was filed against Peat LLC and R&D Research & Development LLC, with Chehalis seeking a warrant of abatement and potential condemnation of the Yard Birds Shopping Center, which is located at 2100 N. National Avenue in Chehalis.
Chehalis is now seeking an injunction to restrict all access to the Yard Birds Shopping Center property.
The lawsuit was filed after the city’s unsuccessful attempts dating back to April 2021 to work with Yard Birds operators to correct what the city calls the mall’s “life-safety” violations, according to a news release.
The city issued an order of abatement against Yard Birds in December. The 60-day deadline for the shopping center to come into compliance with Chehalis city code expired Monday, Feb. 14, with the shopping mall failing to meet the requirements relating to the building’s safety or eviction of its permanent RV park residents, according to the City of Chehalis.
The city has alleged the owners and operators of Yard Birds violated building code and sprinkler requirements, created a public nuisance by allowing people to live on the property at an RV park for more than 14 days, failed to gather permits for building alterations and created an unsafe environment by using its weaker second floor as a storage area.
In addition, there were a number of other safety concerns highlighted by the city, like Yard Birds’ allegedly unauthorized use of its space as an event center without proper means for visitors to exit the venue in the case of an emergency.
“We’ve had reports that they’ve had large events in there,” Chehalis Planning and Building Manager Tammy Baraconi previously told The Chronicle. “And in order to control the flow of people … they are chaining a lot of the doors shut.”
Baraconi said the city has asked for access to the building to set a capacity limit and to ensure there are crash bars on the doors so that people can be restricted entrance, but not exit.
Ultimately, she said the city is “really just looking at the life-safety issues” the building poses to the public, adding that it also wants to remove the permanent residents from the RV park.
From the date of an abatement issuance in December, Yard Birds had 60 days to correct its inadequate fire suppression system, provide the city with engineering reports on the second floor space to prove that its whole-sale use of self storage units there would be supported by the second floor, and fully evict RV tenants from the property.
Yard Birds operator Brent Eaton has disputed many of the city’s claims and said he has acted to correct some of the code violations. Eaton took over operation of the mall in January 2020 and is in agreement to eventually take over ownership from current owner Darris McDaniel.
When asked about the lawsuit, Eaton told The Chronicle, “I have no comment at this time. I’m still talking to my attorney about it.”
According to the news release, the lawsuit seeks judicial approval to correct code violations, “which the city believes pose a serious and imminent threat to the life and safety of people on the Yard Birds Shopping Center property.”
A hearing for the injunction is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. on Friday, March 11.
Access to the entire property would be restricted for an unknown period of time if the injunction is granted.
“This action is being sought because the City believes that entry onto the property could result in injury or loss of life or property due to potential catastrophic failure of key structural components and other threats believed to be present on the property,” the news release stated. “The City requests that people consider their own safety and the safety of others and that entry onto the property of the Yard Birds Shopping Center be discontinued immediately.”