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City looks to change how it sells property

Code amendments aim to simplify the process


The city of West Linn is starting to clean up some of its codes to make its processes more streamlined and efficient.

The city council heard a first reading of some code amendments during its meeting Monday that would make the sale of surplus property easier.

The issue arose when the city bought the property at 1698 Dodge Way for $1 in spring of 2011. When the city began to consider selling the site, staff determined the process was too lengthy and costly.

The current ordinance sorts property into three categories, and there is a different sales process for each classification.

Generally, current code requires a notice and city council hearing before proposing a sale; an appraisal; the council setting a price; the solicitation of bids; listing the property; and using a request for proposals to choose a real estate broker. Then, if the property does not sell for the set price, the process starts all over again from the beginning.

“It was a never-ending loop until the property was sold,” Assistant City Attorney Megan Thornton said.

According to Thornton, the existing process is problematic because it requires an appraisal for each property, which can be expensive, and the bidding process for a broker can be time-consuming and burdensome.

To overcome those obstacles, the new code would give the city flexibility to determine the price of sale through any method, such as a market analysis or an appraisal. Also the new code would not require a request for proposals.

Another change to the code is the removal of a time restriction for the length of sale, which will allow the city to list a sale for however long it wishes.

But perhaps the biggest benefit of the updated code, according to Thornton, is that there is only one process for the sale of all property. It would still require a public hearing, and the city council would still have to approve the sale of the property.

Also, the code changes let the council discuss bids on property during executive session rather than in public meetings.

Councilor Mike Jones asked if the changes would give the city manager more authority than in the past. Thornton said it gives the city manager more discretion, but the city council must still declare properties as surplus and would have to approve the sales.

Councilor Teri Cummings said she felt the proposed changes gave the city manager “way too much authority.”

However, other councilors felt the changes were a step in the right direction.

“It does sound like a more efficient and effective way,” Council President Jenni Tan said.

Cummings was the lone vote against the proposed changes during the first reading. A second reading will be held during the next city council meeting on Oct. 22. According to the city charter, an ordinance can only go into effect on the first read if the council approves it unanimously.




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