After decades of wringing their hands and trying to work with the owner of two dilapidated homes on Northwest Nye, the city of Newport has adopted a state law that allows them to tear down the homes and take possession of the property to cover the costs of the demolition. City officials also say this possible fate for the homes will prompt the owner to actually do something to about the situation.
The Newport City Council is informing the owner, who live out of town, that unless something is done to deal with their long abandoned homes at 645 and 655 NW Nye, the city will take matters into their own hands. City officials say they will arrange to tear down both houses because the dwellings constitute a safety and health threat to the community. The two homes have been used by transients for years for temporary shelter. City officials say they’ve tried for a very long time to engage the owner but to no avail. So now equipped with the looming power to actually take possession of the property the city hopes the owner will finally step up and take care of things.
It was noted during the city council meeting that although the state law has been on the books for a long time, it has never been used to resolve such an issue anywhere in the state. Owners of dilapidated structures, when confronted with losing their property, have always decided to fix up or properly dispose of their property.
In the case of the Nye Street houses, the property taxes on both homes have been covered by a mortgage company, and the tax payments are up to date. City Attorney Steve Rich says that’s potentially good news because it means there is another entity that has a direct interest in the fate of the property – that entity perhaps being willing to help take care of the problem.
On another housing matter, the city council decided to salvage three homes on NE 70th Drive that the city bought (with federal disaster funds) because they were no longer inhabitable due to unstable soils. It was last year’s heavy rains that so saturated areas of NE 70th that the cliff face at the rear of the homes gave way. One home tumbled over the cliff completely – it’s next door neighboring home hanging over the side. However, three additional houses to the west remained intact but were judged unsafe due to ground conditions in the immediate vicinity. The council authorized the transport of the three salvageable homes to temporary storage at the Newport Airport where they will remain until the city arranges for them to be transformed into affordable housing somewhere inside Newport City limits. There are several affordable housing advocacy groups that may be interested in acquiring them.
TCB Security Services appears poised to become the city’s parking enforcement entity. The city council approved, in concept, TCB taking over parking enforcement right down to writing the tickets for those violating parking laws. Under the plan, TCB would write the tickets and collect the fines and turn over to the city the revenues on those fines. TCB would be paid a percentage of each fine for providing parking enforcement services.
A formal agreement between the city and TCB is expected shortly.
And finally, a high ranking ODOT official strongly hinted to the Newport City Council that if the Yaquina Bay Bridge, built in 1936, is to be replaced, as it must some day, the city and/or the county, or the region would have to help with the funding. At least that’s the way it looks now. That assistance could take the form of local revenue sharing or setting up toll booths at each end of the bridge. ODOT told the council that the future of highway and bridge funding in Oregon does not look good.
Distinctly missing from the discussion was any reference to the increasingly visible awareness of the Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake that might bring down any bridge – replacement or otherwise – and that the best strategy may be to keep repairing the bridge for as long as possible until the inevitable shaker calls the last shot in the debate.