My run in with Jim Bibby City of Burien Code Enforcement Officer

City of Burien Employee Jim Bibby – a man who doesn’t do his homework!

“A man who has committed a mistake and doesn’t correct it, is committing another mistake.” -Confucius

Earlier this week, I received a letter from the code enforcement officer Jim Bibby of the City of Burien stating that my business doesn’t exist and I need to take my business sign down.

What?  Really?  So my City of Burien business license is worthless?  Why do I bother obtaining one every year?  Why was it issued to me by the City of Burien if my business doesn’t really exist?  Hmmm, do I get a refund then?

Jim Bibby doesn’t like me.  I had a run in with him in 2006 about this same sign.  He wouldn’t listen to me so I went over his head to get some answers and some real customer service.  I think he didn’t like that.  I didn’t cower up and do as he said.  He was clearly wrong then and he is wrong now.

I had another run in with him in 2008 in regards to a “For Rent” sign I had posted for an empty apartment we had.  He stated that I had to have a professional real estate sign posted, not a homemade one.  This is even if we (as owners of the property) wanted to rent it out ourselves instead of having a real estate agency do it.  (Please note: I am a Washington State licensed real estate broker).  We ended up post a sign in the window and it rented fairly quickly despite of Jim Bibby’s and the City of Burien’s actions.  Needless to say, the City of Burien is clearly anti-business and anti-landlord in that respect.  They probably hate cute puppies too.

People like Jim Bibby don’t help the City of Burien; they harm it.  Jim Bibby wants to impose his idea of what my photography business should look like onto me.  Jim Bibby stated in his telephone conversation to me that my photography business doesn’t look like a photography business.  Excuse me?  What?  Jim Bibby has moved from being a code enforcement officer to a photography business expert?  When did that happen?  Did I miss something?

I did ask him in his vast knowledge as a photography business owner that he knows exactly what a photography business looks like, right?  He told me he has never owned a photography business!  The how is he suppose to know what one looks like?  He sold shoes before he had a job as the code enforcement officer (according to the West Seattle Herald).  I told him that you can not pigeon hole all photography businesses into one small minded category.  Some photographers create passports, others photograph weddings, and still others like to strictly do commercial photography work.  Thus, we are not all the same and our businesses are all different.

You can say the same thing about people.  I have been mistaken for a cop a number of times.  I guess I have that “cop” look to me….but I’m not a cop.

What truly upsets me is that Jim Bibby has the gall to tell me what my photography business should look like.  He is a public servant working to enforce the code.  He is not an interior decorator designing a photography business.  If I want to paint the inside of my walls black with pink elephants and put photos of kitty cats in orange dresses, I’ll do it.  If I want to take my equipment home every night, I will.  If I want to work out of my studio some days and take other days off, I will.  For Jim Bibby to tell me that I’m not a photography business is beyond his scope of expertise and his job description.

The thing is, I share space with another business and I’m not over at the studio every day.  That is the nature of my photography business…I don’t have to be there every day.  I meet a lot of clients out on location and not at my Burien studio.  That is the way I run my business and that is the way I like it.  If I want to work from home, I’ll do that.  My photography business is strictly “by appointment only”.  If you don’t have an appointment, I probably won’t be there if you stop by unannounced.

If Jim Bibby did his job correctly and the way the taxpayers pay him to do it, he would have properly researched that I do have a LEGAL business license issued by the City of Burien and I do have a LEGAL business license from the State of Washington.  I have had these for years.  I pay my taxes.  I collect sales tax in the area my business is based in and forward it to the State of Washington as I am required to do.  I’m not trying to make waves here, I’m trying to run my business ethically and support my family financially.

Instead, Jim Bibby wastes my time and the taxpayer’s time and money by sending me a certified letter stating that I need to remove my LEGAL sign.  Yes, it is legal according to the laws and codes of the City of Burien!

In my conversation with Jim Bibby today, I asked him point blank: Do I have a business license in Burien?  The answer is yes.  Does that make my sign legal?  His answer: Yes.

Well, I guess you have your answer don’t you?  I informed this fact to code enforcement officer Jim Bibby.  I don’t think he was too happy with me.  I don’t think Jim likes it when someone points out he is wrong.

I also told him that he was harassing me and I didn’t like it.  He can’t tell me what my business is supposed to look like.  I’m not operating a pet store and claiming it is a photography studio.  I operate a photography business and I take my photography equipment with me on location.  If I want my business to be empty, it can be. My equipment doesn’t have to be all set up in the studio if I don’t want it to be.  In fact, the other business I share space with just painted and installed new floors.  The place looks awesome!  My equipment couldn’t stay set up during a remodel anyway. 

So Jim Bibby, Code Enforcement Officer of the City of Burien, please do your homework before you harass me again.  Otherwise, I will file a restraining order against you and have you arrested by the City of Burien Police Department for harassment.