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Umatilla County to board up Rodeo City Inn

Commissioners hope move puts pressure on owner to take action
Phil Wright

East Oregonian

Published on December 6, 2017 6:40PM

Last changed on December 6, 2017 8:31PM

Umatilla County will board up the doors and windows at the Rodeo City Inn near Pendleton, which has been designated a dangerous building.

EO file photo

Umatilla County will board up the doors and windows at the Rodeo City Inn near Pendleton, which has been designated a dangerous building.

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Umatilla County is sealing the doors and windows on the ramshackle Rodeo City Inn.

The county’s board of commissioners during its Wednesday meeting in Pendleton took up the latest action on the inn. County counsel Doug Olsen told the board the county in early October sent a “dangerous building” notice to the inn’s owner, Western Hotels & Properties, a limited-liability company in El Centro, California. The notice directed the company to clean up and secure the building within 60 days and make structural repairs within 180 days.

The first period closed, Olsen told commissioners, and the owner has done nothing to the building. All the doors are open and all the windows are broken at the old three-story hotel off Interstate 84’s exit 202. Olsen said the county has the authority to board up the place and bill the owner for the cost.

Eli Stephens of Pendleton addressed the board about the inn. He has property nearby and said the place remains troubled.

“There are still people we chase out of there, still people hanging around,” he said. “... I just want to see it boarded up to make it not an attractive nuisance.”

Commissioners Bill Elfering and George Murdock were on board with that.

“Well, it’s been a huge problem for the county,” Murdock said. “Two sheriffs have both been deeply immersed in dealings with the Rodeo City Inn. We have done everything possible to try to mitigate the problem. It’s a blight, it’s a safety hazard, it’s a crime center, and the owners have kind of thumbed their noses at us. They haven’t responded in good faith ... I think it’s time to move forward.”

Elfering said this step might have enough teeth and muscle to move the property owner to action, and it gives them 180 days to pay back the county or face foreclosure.

The site is beginning that process, with property taxes three years in arrears.

The two commissioners voted for the county to take control of the inn and secure it. (Board chair Larry Givens is in Forth Worth, Texas, for the National Association of Counties’ fall board of directors meeting and poverty summit.)

Stephens also presented the board with bids showing the cost for that work could reach more than $10,000. Commissioners did not affirm if they would contract or have staff handle it.

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Contact Phil Wright at pwright@eastoregonian.com or 541-966-0833.



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