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Look out below

Residents say city has failed to respond to complaints, call for more substantial fence to shield down-hill houses
by: David Stroup, Mannix Dixon

Oregon City residents at the south end of Monroe Street are angry over chronic problems with hooligans who have the high ground - throwing rocks, bottles, golf clubs and home-made explosives off the top of the bluff that towers over their homes.

A breach in the fence right above their roofs was recently patched (one day after this newspaper called the city for comment on the situation), but the residents say they want more - a larger, more secure fence - and more responsiveness from the city to a problem they say they've been trying to get action on for years.

Mannix Dizon lives across from the base of the bluff, where rocks have fallen and broken a windshield; a neighbor's new Subaru Tribeca is sporting a recent hole from another projectile.

Some of those rocks may be falling naturally off the face of the bluff - an unavoidable hazard of living at the base of a cliff, the city says. But other neighbors say they find broken bottles, dinner plates, a nine-iron and more in their yards. Two days after July 4, Dizon displayed what appeared to be a home-made explosive made from pill bottles; a loud blast from the bluff had awakened residents the night of July 5.

'We've got rocks to show for it,' Dizon said. 'Huge concrete slabs… they were firing off fireworks down at us, at neighbors, and we had them screaming and yelling… we have all these kids around, playing, and we have kids up there yelling profanities, throwing things, fruit, food, burning debris.'

Neighbor Bob Fritche agrees it's a problem: 'They throw rocks - they've been up there with a baseball bat, hitting rocks with a baseball bat. The Fourth of July night they were throwing burning stuff off the hill, that caught fire.'

'The city has had on-going issues with things being thrown off the bluff at various points,' City Manager Larry Patterson said.

The trouble spot appears to be north of an overlook locals call 'the cross,' at the top of an old, closed road which runs up the face of the cliff.

Patterson said they have had problems recently with some juveniles throwing things off the cliff; the police are following up with that investigation. He said the city engineer is also looking at the problem.

'Even without people throwing stuff, you could have rocks falling off it,' he said - as well as the possibility that someone could fall.

Residents of the small neighborhood at the foot of the problematic heights, however, feel the city hasn't paid enough attention to the problem.

'Police have been out here - we've made numerous calls - numerous attempts to get some action,' Dizon said. 'And it happens every year - every summer at about this time - but this year seems to be worse.'

Fritche said they have been trying to get some action - like the recently-applied patch - for years, and he doesn't think it will be sufficient.

'What they really need to do is put a fence up that can't be thrown over - they put it on overpasses, to keep people from throwing off overpasses.'

'Any time you have something built down below a rock wall like that - things can happen,' Patterson said. He said, however, that they will analyze the hazard, find out what they can do - and determine what's in the budget.