Specific language could be helpful

Estacada's code-enforcement officer says one of the biggest barriers to compliance is the language contained in the code itself.

Ron Smith delivered that message Monday, July 22, to the Estacada City Council, as it held a workshop to discuss the city code.

Smith said enforcing city codes would be easier in several instances if the language were clearer.

Councilor Curt Steininger sparked debate over several parts of the codes’ wording.

“My issue is what we’re considering trash and what we can go ahead and fine (people) for,” he said.

He added that he wanted to hear from the community, as the city’s code should reflect “what the community wants.”

Smith agreed, saying "The same issues are all over this town. That’s why we need to have codes that have the proper verbiage so we can enforce them.”

In sections of the code that deal with “weeds and noxious growth,” for instance, it would be helpful to know at what height vegetation may be deemed unsightly or offensive, and what counts as “noxious growth.”

The code offers this guideline: “All persons in possession of real property shall maintain such property free from growth or material which may harbor or attract vermin or insects or aid in the spread of disease, or which may be offensive or unsightly to the community in which the property is located.”

The council, Smith and City Manager Bill Elliott seemed to agree that it would be helpful to get more specific.

Councilor Michele Conditt said that she would like to see “what other cities do” and how other cities word similar sections of their code.

During public comment, an audience member said that he hoped the code would address matters of “unsightliness.”

He said that he is embarrassed when friends come out to visit him and drive past yards with decaying cars.

“I think that’s the kind of situation the code is meant to deal with,” Conditt said. “I don’t think they should be allowed to camp out these cars on their property for eternity.”

The code prohibits inoperable vehicles from being kept on private property for more than 30 days.

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