The city of Umatilla will take the task of cleaning up junk and debris at one residence into its own hands.

Monday night, the Umatilla City Council approved a forced abatement at 1561 Eighth St. after the homeowners refused to comply with code violations and recommendations from the Code Improvement Board.

The residence, and its occupants, owner Brent Baker and his son Allan Baker, were first cited for code violations in March 2012. Code enforcement officer Tisa Coffey first contacted the family on March 2 after a neighbor complained.

The Bakers were given until March 9 to come into compliance. When no progress was made and additional complaints filed, the Bakers were cited with: nuisances attractive to children, visible junk, scattering rubbish, discarded and abandoned vehicles and dog at large.

“In addition to that, one of the residents was also operating a commercial car repair business in the alley behind the residence,” City Manager Bob Ward said Monday. “They have been resistant to doing anything significant to remedy the situation, and they have continued to rack up fines. The last plan for them was to build a sight-obscuring fence to hide it from view. They have done nothing on either.”

The Bakers now owe more than $4,000 in fines, and Ward said the next step is forced abatement,

A dumpster will be placed on the property and a work crew hired to remove visible junk and debris. Ward estimated the abatement will cost more than $350 and will be billed to the homeowners.

“I doubt we’re going to get any money from them for the forced abatement,” Ward said. “In that case, we’d have to put a lien on the property.”

Brent Baker, the property owner, recently died, and Ward said the city is unsure who the current owner is. Three people are believed to live in the residence.

The council unanimously approved the forced abatement, which will take place next week unless the Bakers clean up the property beforehand.

Port asks for a break

The Port of Umatilla has asked the city for a more than $7,000 break on utility bills.

Kim Puzey, general manager, approached the Umatilla City Council with a request for billing relief during Monday’s council meeting. The relief request covers city water, sewer and garbage bills at the Umatilla Marina and R.V. Park.

The Port of Umatilla leases the property from the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers. The Port originally signed a 25-year lease, which was then renewed. The lease expires in December 2018.

The port receives income from recreational vehicle and boat moorage rents, but Puzey said that income does not pay for the personnel, operations, maintenance and utility costs required for the site.

“In the last 19 years, since I’ve been here, there has not been a week where the marina has been profitable,” Puzey said Monday. “We lose $1,000 a week.”

Over a the 2011 calendar year, the port paid $2,204.90 in water, $1,920 in sewer and $3,090.50 in garbage bills to the city, a total of $7,215.40, according to information provided by Puzey.

“We’re here to present to you, to ask for whatever relief you can give us,” he said. “We’re coming here asking for something. If we get nothing, we’ll press on. Our feelings and actions with the city won’t be changed.”

Puzey also pointed out the Port has put in $5.5 million in infrastructure improvements to road and rail in the Umatilla area.

“The projects we get funded through the state sometimes make it seem like we are flush. We are not,” he said. In addition, the Port is paying off a loan to build the new dock — the loan period stretches past 2018 — and Puzey said the Port does not have the funds to demolish and replace the old docks at this time.

Council members discussed the issue but tabled it until the September meeting for more information, including what precedence the relief would set for other entities.

Recommended for you

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.