3-03 Property Maintenance Code

3-03.01 Introductory Provisions

3-03.01-10 Short Title

This chapter shall be known and may be cited as the Property Maintenance Code.

3-03.01-20 Purpose

The Council finds and declares that conditions that promote blight and deterioration or that create a hazard to the health and safety of any person, are injurious to the health, safety and general welfare of the public.

3-03.01-30 Scope

This chapter is to:

  • A. Protect the public health, safety and general welfare by regulating the exterior conditions of existing structures and existing premises by establishing minimum requirements and standards for exterior conditions of structures and premises for the protection from the elements, life safety, other hazards, and for safe and sanitary maintenance;
  • B. Establish the responsibility of property owners; and
  • C. Provide for administration, enforcement and penalties.

3-03.01-40 Intent

This chapter shall be construed to secure and ensure the health, safety and general welfare of the public insofar as they are affected by the continued occupancy and maintenance of structures and premises. Existing structures and premises that do not comply with these provisions shall be altered or repaired to provide a minimum level of health, safety and maintenance as required herein.

3-03.01-50 Definitions

Words stated in the present tense include the future; the singular number includes the plural and the plural the singular. Where terms are not defined in this chapter or other Code sections and are defined in the State Building, Plumbing or Mechanical Codes, such terms shall have the meanings ascribed to them as in those codes. Where terms are not defined through the methods authorized by this section, such terms shall have ordinarily accepted meanings such as the context implies. Whenever the words “premises”, “building” or other similar words are stated in this chapter, they shall be construed as though they were followed by the words “or any part thereof.” Unless otherwise expressly stated, the following terms shall, for the purposes of this chapter, have the following meanings:

  • A. “Abandoned Structure” means a vacant structure, or portion thereof, that is an attractive nuisance to children at play, or that is used for unlawful activity or that is otherwise unoccupied and untended.
  • B. “Attractive Nuisance” means any attractive nuisance which may prove detrimental to children whether in or on a building, on the premises of a building, or upon an un-occupied lot, which is left in any place exposed or accessible to children. This includes unused or abandoned refrigerators, freezers, or other large appliances or equipment or any parts thereof, abandoned motor vehicles; any structurally unsound or unsafe fence or edifice, any unsecured or abandoned excavation, pit, well, cistern, storage or shaft; or any lumber, trash, debris or vegetation which may prove a hazard for minors.
  • C. “Boarded Building” means an unoccupied or derelict building that has been secured against entry by material such as plywood, boards or other similar material placed over openings that are designed for and/or are required for windows and doors, and which is visible off the premises and is not both lawful and customary to install on an occupied structure.
  • D. “Building” means any structure occupied or intended for any occupancy.
  • E. “Building Code” means Building Codes adopted by Columbia County and the City of Vernonia.
  • F. “Building Official” means the building official of Columbia County or the building official’s designee.
  • G. “Deterioration” means a lowering in quality of the condition or appearance of a building, structure or parts thereof characterized by holes, breaks, rot, crumbling, cracking, peeling, rusting, or any other evidence of physical decay, neglect, excessive use, or lack of maintenance.
  • H. “Imminent Hazard” means a condition that places a person’s life, health, or property in high risk of peril when such condition is immediate or impending.
  • I. “Legal Owner” means any person recorded in the official records of the State, County or municipality as holding title to the premises.
  • J. “Administrator” means the City Administrator or the Administrator’s designee.
  • K. “Owner” means any legal owner or any person having charge, care or control of a premises.
  • L. “Partially Constructed” means an occupied or vacant structure, or portion thereof, that has been left in a state of partial construction for more than six (6) months or after the expiration of any building permit, or that has not had a required permit inspection within any six (6) month period.
  • M. “Person” means an individual, corporation, partnership or any other group or entity.
  • N. “Premises” means a lot, plot or parcel of land including any structure thereon.
  • O. “Skilled Manner” means executed in a skilled manner; i.e., generally plumb, level, square, in line, undamaged, without marring adjacent work and completed in conformance with generally accepted construction and maintenance practices.
  • P. “Structure” means that which is built or constructed or a portion thereof.
  • Q. “Unoccupied” means not being used for a lawful occupancy.

3-03.02 Administrative Provisions

3-03.02-10 Responsibility

  • A. Unless otherwise provided for, the Administrator shall be responsible for the ultimate enforcement of all of the provisions of this chapter. The Administrator may appoint such number of officers, technical assistants, inspectors and other employees as shall be necessary for the administration of this chapter. The Administrator is authorized to designate an employee who shall exercise all the powers of the Administrator during the temporary absence or disability of the Administrator.
  • B. Where work is required to be done under this code to correct violations, any permits required for such work by the Building Codes and/or the City of Vernonia shall be obtained.

3-03.02-20 Complaint Process and Action

  • A. Complaints for violations of this chapter are to be directed to the Administrator. The Administrator shall make and maintain a list of complaints and take the necessary steps to verify the existence of any violations.
  • B. If the complaint is not verified, the Administrator will provide notice to the complainant and identify the reasons the complaint was not substantiated.
  • C. If the Administrator determines that the complaint is verified, a notice of complaint and violation shall be sent to the property owner.

3-03.02-30 Notice to Legal Owner

  • A. The notice of complaint and violation sent by the Administrator to the legal owner shall include:
    • 1. The location of the property that is the subject of the complaint by commonly used street address;
    • 2. Citation of the specific provisions of this chapter giving rise to the alleged violation;
    • 3. A clear description of the conditions on the property that violate this chapter;
    • 4. A clear description of the actions required to correct the violation(s);
    • 5. A statement of the time allowed to correct the violation(s) (not more than thirty (30) days);
    • 6. A statement of the penalties, fines, costs, and administrative fee that may be imposed under this article for failure to correct the violation(s);
    • 7. A statement that the imposition of certain costs and administrative fees will constitute a lien on the property;
    • 8. A statement of the way to contact the Administrator with any questions regarding the notice; and
    • 9. The ability to request a temporary or hardship waiver, and that if neither of these options is exercised, enforcement action will be taken;
    • 10. The notice of complaint and violation may also be sent by the Administrator to the person in charge of the property, if it appears to be someone other than the legal owner, and to the holder of any recorded or other known interest in the property, including mortgage or lien holders and insurance companies.

3-03.02-40 Option to Correct the Condition; Administrator’s Flexibility

If the legal owner of the property responds that they wish to correct the condition, the Administrator may allow the legal owner to accomplish correction of the violations and will monitor completion of the correction(s). The Administrator will then verify that the correction(s) has been accomplished and will send notice to the complainant that the complaint has been resolved. The Administrator shall note the resolution of the complaint on the complaint list.

3-03.02-50 Failure to Respond to Notice of Complaint and Violation

If the legal owner takes no action to correct the violation within the time specified, enforcement action will be taken.

3-03.02-60 Modifications

Where there are extreme hardships involved in carrying out provisions of this chapter, the Administrator shall have the right to vary or modify the provisions of this chapter upon application of an owner, provided that the spirit and intent of the law is observed and that the health, safety and general welfare of the public is assured.

3-03.02-70 Temporary Waivers of Enforcement Action

  • A. The Administrator may issue a temporary waiver of enforcement action, which will give a period of time that the Administrator determines is reasonable, but no longer than six (6) months, to correct the violations found. The length of time given will depend on several factors, such as the extent and cost of the repairs, seriousness of the conditions, financial capacity of the owner, and the time of year. During the waiver period, the owner or an occupant may continue to live on the property, and the owner may re-rent it if it becomes vacant and the property complies with Oregon laws regarding tenancy, which may include the Oregon Residential Landlord and Tenant Act.
  • B. The Administrator may revoke the waiver if there is any change in the conditions constituting the basis for the waiver. Because the waiver is granted to a specific property owner, the waiver automatically terminates upon change in ownership. The Administrator may, assist the owner in obtaining information regarding financial or other assistance to make the necessary repairs.

3-03.02-80 Hardship Waivers of Enforcement Action

  • A. The Administrator may issue a hardship waiver of enforcement action only if the owner currently legally resides on the property. A hardship waiver may be issued only in those instances when the owner is found by the Administrator to be over sixty-five (65) years of age, disabled, or classified as “very low income” under the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) standards. Hardship waivers shall not exceed three (3) years. The income level of the owner will be reevaluated before the end of the three year waiver period. An application for a hardship waiver must be filed with the Administrator in writing. The Administrator may require the owner to supply all information necessary to demonstrate the owner’s eligibility for the waiver. The owner must submit a separate application for waiver for each notice of complaint and violation.
  • B. The Administrator may revoke the waiver if there is a change in the conditions constituting the basis for the waiver. Because the waiver is granted to a specific property owner, the waiver automatically terminates upon change in ownership or tenure of the property.
  • C. The owner may reapply for new hardship waivers to become effective at the expiration of the term of any hardship waiver previously granted.
  • D. The Administrator may assist the owner in obtaining information concerning financial or other assistance to make the necessary repairs.

3-03.02-90 Coordination of Enforcement

The Administrator shall make reasonable effort to arrange for the coordination of enforcement efforts and any necessary inspections in an effort to minimize conflicts between the activities of affected City departments.

3-03.03 Maintenance Provisions

3-03.03-10 Exterior Surfaces

All exterior surfaces, including but not limited to, window frames, doors, door frames, cornices, porches, siding and trim shall be maintained in good condition.

  • A. Every exterior wall and weather-exposed exterior surface or attachment shall be free of holes, breaks, loose or rotting boards or timbers and any other conditions which might admit rain or dampness to the interior portions of the walls or the occupied spaces of the building.
  • B. All exterior wood surfaces shall be made substantially impervious to the adverse effects of weather by periodic application of an approved protective coating of weather-resistant preservative, and be maintained in good condition. Wood used in construction of permanent structures and located closer than six (6) inches to earth shall be treated wood or wood having a natural resistance to decay as required by the building and development codes.
  • C. Exterior metal surfaces shall be protected from rust and corrosion.
  • D. Every section of exterior brick, stone, masonry, or other veneer shall be maintained in a sound condition adequately supported and tied back to its supporting structure as determined by visual observation.

3-03.03-20 Street Numbers

Each structure to which a street number has been assigned shall have such number displayed in a position easily observable and readable from the public right-of-way as required by the Oregon Fire Code. Such numbers must be repaired, placed or replaced if missing, deteriorated or broken.

3-03.03-30 Foundation Walls

All foundation walls shall be maintained free from open cracks and breaks and shall be kept in such condition so as to prevent the entry of pests or trespassers.

3-03.03-40 Exterior Walls

  • A. All exterior walls shall be free from holes, breaks, loose or rotting materials.
  • B. The use of tarps or similar material for emergency repair, or temporarily in place of a customary building component such as siding or a door shall not exceed ninety (90) days in any consecutive twelve (12) month period; provided, however, that this subsection is subject to, and does not supersede, the requirements of the Building and Fire Code. The use of tarps or similar material in place of a customary building component is not permitted under the Building Code.

3-03.03-50 Roofs and Drainage

The roof and flashing shall be sound, tight and not have defects. Roof drainage shall be adequate. Roof drains, gutters and down spouts shall be maintained in good repair. The use of tarps or similar material for emergency repair shall not exceed ninety (90) days in any consecutive twelve (12) month period.

3-03.03-60 Decorative Features

All cornices, corbels, terra cotta trim, wall facings and similar decorative features shall be maintained in good repair with proper anchorage and in a safe condition.

3-03.03-70 Windows and Doors

Windows, doors and all frames shall be kept in sound conditions, good repair and weather tight. Where windows and doors have been sealed by plastic or other materials for weather proofing, said materials shall be maintained in a skilled manner. Window and door screens, while not required by this article, shall be maintained in a skilled manner.

3-03.03-80 Glazing

All glazing materials shall be maintained free from cracks and holes. Glazing with holes, cracks, or that is partially or wholly missing shall be replaced within thirty (30) days of the incident that caused the defect.

3-03.03-90 Accessory Structures

All accessory sheds, fences, walls and other similar structures shall be maintained in a sound condition and in good repair.

3-03.04 Derelict Structures

3-03.04-10 Derelict Structures Prohibited

No structure shall be left unoccupied and unsecured, partially constructed, abandoned, maintained in a condition that is unfit for human habitation or for its otherwise intended purposes, or maintained in a condition that is an imminent hazard.

3-03.04-20 Closing and Securing of Derelict Structures

Whenever, in the opinion of the Administrator, a structure is a derelict structure, the Administrator may order the boarding-up of openings or other appropriate measures to render the structure secure from entry. The securing of the structure shall be by methods calculated to render entry very difficult, including, but not limited to, the use of lag bolts in the boarding of entry points, instead of nailing.

3-03.04-30 Derelict Structure Registration

In the event the Administrator determines that a structure violates 3-03.04-10 the legal owner of the structure shall be required to register the structure with the Administrator within ten (10) days of the Administrator’s written order to register. Registration under the terms of this chapter shall be completed on forms to be provided by the Administrator, and shall include information relating to the location and ownership of the structure, the expected period of its vacancy, a plan for regular maintenance during the period of vacancy, and a plan for its re-occupancy and use, or its demolition. If corrective action will not be completed within thirty (30) days, a hardship or temporary waiver of enforcement action must be obtained by the City Administrator, and status of progress shall be reported by the owner at a minimum of every thirty (30) days, or sooner. Any change in the information provided pursuant to this section shall be given to the Administrator within thirty (30) days. The Administrator shall maintain a list of derelict structures. When the owner believes the structure is no longer derelict the owner shall contact the Administrator and request an inspection to determine that the structure is no longer derelict.

3-03.05 General Provisions

3-03.05-10 General

The exterior of a structure shall be maintained in good repair and in a sanitary condition so as not to pose a threat or danger to the health, safety or general welfare of the public.

3-03.05-20 Required Maintenance

All systems, devices and safeguards required by this chapter shall be maintained in good working order, thus ensuring the health, safety and general welfare of all inhabitants.

3-03.05-30 Skilled Work Required

All repairs, maintenance work, alterations or installations which are caused directly or indirectly by the enforcement of this chapter shall be executed and installed in a skilled manner.

3-03.05-40 Violations

  • A Violation of any section of this chapter is subject to a fine that shall be set and adjusted by council resolution. A violation is considered a separate violation for each day it continues.
  • B In addition to any other penalty provided by law, a person determined to be responsible for violation of any provision of this chapter may be ordered by the court to correct the violation.
  • C In addition to 3-03.05-40.A and B, violation of any provision of this chapter shall also constitute a nuisance and may be abated under Chapter 3-02 of the Vernonia Municipal Code.

3-03.05-50 Administrative Enforcement Fees

  • A. In addition to, and not in lieu of, any cost, fee, fine or penalty provided for in this chapter, if a violation is not abated within thirty (30) days of the initial written notice for abatement as provided by 3-03.02-30, the Administrator shall impose administrative enforcement fees on the property and/or its owner in accordance with the fee schedule adopted by Vernonia City Council resolution for such fees.
  • B. Interest at a rate set and adjusted by Council resolution, or at such other legal rate of interest as may be specified in ORS 82.010, shall be added to any fees, charges, costs, and administrative enforcement fees that are not paid within thirty (30) days of imposition.

3-03.05-60 Receivership Authority

In addition to, and not in lieu of any other provisions of this chapter, when the Administrator finds residential property in violation of this chapter, and believes that the violation is a threat to the health, safety, and general welfare of the public and the legal owner has not acted in a timely manner to correct the violation(s), the Administrator may apply to a court of competent jurisdiction for the appointment of a receiver to perform an abatement pursuant to the Oregon Housing Receivership Act (ORS 105.420 to 105.455).

3-03.05-70 Lien

Administrative enforcements fee(s), abatement costs, interests, or other fees or charges imposed under this chapter, shall, constitute a valid lien against the property in favor of the City of Vernonia, if not paid within thirty (30) days of imposition the lien shall remain valid against the property until fully paid. The City shall file the lien in its lien docket, which said notices of such liens then shall be posted in the appropriate manner for public disclosure, whether with the Columbia County Clerk Recorder’s office or online through Net Assets Corporation. The City may collect an administrative fee, which shall be set and adjusted by Vernonia City Council resolution, for the release of any lien issued by the City.

3-03.05-80 Application of Other Codes

Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to relieve a person from complying with any federal, State or local law, including any other provisions of the Vernonia Municipal Code, or the requirement to obtain all necessary permits and approvals.