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Councilors discuss code enforcement shift

Estacada’s approach to code enforcement could be changing.

Councilors discussed changing the current complaint-driven system to one that’s more uniformly enforced.

The discussion came during the Monday, March 24, City Council meeting, and followed the March 10 meeting when resident Earlene Raines told the council she had received an abatement notice for parking her utility trailer in one of her two off-street parking spaces at her residence.

The city code does not allow recreation vehicles, unoccupied mobile homes, utility trailers or boats to be parked in home’s driveways for more than 24-hours.

She explained that as it is also not allowed to park a trailer in the street for more than 24-hours, to comply with code she would have to rent space to park the trailer, which would be a financial burden.

The council directed city staff to review the ordinance and to research how other cities address the parking of utility trailers and decided that Raines may keep her trailer parked there without fine until the council has made a decision on the code.

The councilors returned to the subject during the March 24 meeting.

City Manager Bill Elliott said most cities respond to utility trailer parking violations based on complaints.

“I just can’t see why they can’t have their trailer in their own driveway,” Councilor Rob Gaskill said.

Councilor Emil Hnidey agreed. But added he’d like to make sure at least one off-street space is available.

“I guess I would also have concerns about a boat, if I had a boat, I’d put it on my driveway. It seems like that’s where it’s supposed to go,” Mayor Brent Dodrill said.

Elliott said the code had been in place for a long time, but he couldn’t find why it had been written in the first place.

The discussion moved to code enforcement itself.

Dodrill said it seemed to him that anything goes until someone complains. Councilor Michele Conditt agreed.

“The thing I really think we should get rid of is if there’s not a complaint, we’re not going to bother you,” Gaskill said.

Councilor Sean Drinkwine said he could drive around town and see five of the same violation. He said that if the council decided to enforce the code, they must enforce it in all instances.

Dodrill brought the discussion back to the matter at hand: “Do we want to allow trailers, unoccupied mobile homes, a boat, to be able to park continuously on a person’s driveway?”

“I don’t see the city being able to afford to micromanage everybody in the city in their own driveways,” Councilor Ed Smith said.

Elliott said that should the council decide to uniformly enforce the ordinance, he could see people being upset for being reprimanded for something they had been doing for years.

He told the council that they could take their time making a decision.

Hnidey agreed that the council should take its time.

“Dealing with personal liberty versus the greater good is a really touchy subject,” he said.

“If we change the whole way we approach ordinances, we’ll have this place full, regularly. We just need to know that,” Dodrill said.

The council decided to review the code in a series of workshops and to have Code Enforcement Officer Ron Smith participate in the discussion. Dodrill suggested a ride-along to see what specific issues he deals with.

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