City: Code enforcement fines not a deterrent for Scappoose homeowner
Scappoose's largest source of code enforcement violations isn't a development company, garbage heap or makeshift junkyard, but ironically, an inconspicuous home on Southwest JP West Road.
A single home, overgrown with weeds and tall grass, has garnered more code enforcement visits than any other property in the city.
An aging house in disrepair is tucked away behind thick bushes and overgrown grass.
The walkway leading up to the dilapidated home is overgrown with knee-high weeds and an entanglement of blackberry bushes. At the front door, a sunken porch slopes heavily into the structure.
The carport — the only structure visible from the road — is also aging badly, with a hole in the roof.
No one is home. At first glance, the property looks unlived in.
Neighbors and police say they don't believe the home's owner, Dave Rogers, is incapable of mowing the property, but rather, disinterested.
The city's code enforcement department, which is part of the Scappoose Police Department, has made at least 10 site visits, issuing warnings and two citations since 2014, records show.
Police have received 26 calls on the property, mostly nuisance complaints, since 2009.
"I observed tall grass, blackberry vines, and weeds growing all over the property to the point where I had trouble finding how to approach the front door," Teresa Keller, a Scappoose code enforcement officer, wrote in a May 16, 2016 report after a site visit. During a follow-up visit in July of that year, Keller noted she spoke with Rogers and he told her he "had been living out of his truck basically because of working so many hours."
Keller noted he mentioned the possibility of hiring teens to come mow the weeds and grass, but it's unlikely that ever happened, based on several follow-up reports.
Scappoose Police Chief Norm Miller, who oversees the city's code enforcement, said officers have made contact with the owner a few times, but the fines haven't been a deterrent.
"He just keeps paying the citations," Miller noted.
The issue has never gone before the city's municipal judge because the citations haven't been neglected and the owner hasn't appealed or disputed anything. Records show Rogers has paid $1,160 in fines since 2013, rather than com-
plying with clean-up re-
A phone number for the owner is now out of service and a note left at the door requesting comment on this story yielded no response.
"It's horrible even living next to him," said Terri Etter, a neighboring property owner. Etter said she worries about fire hazards, noting a burn pile nestled in overgrown weeds, and considers the property an eyesore.
"What draws your attention is the overgrowth," Etter said. "Obviously it diminishes the value of my property. If I needed to sell our house, who's gonna buy my house looking at that?"
City officials say the unresolved code enforcement issues are a first for the city.
"It's tough because we don't necessarily have the city resources to send someone out to clean it up," Miller said, adding that the city has considered the possibility of contracting with a company to do the yard work and billing the property owner for it.
"The goal is to get a resolution, not to fine people," Miller noted of the code enforcement process.