Complaints Intake Policy

Policy: Intake of Code Enforcement Complaints
Adopted: May 2015
Revised:  

1. Definitions

Anonymous complaints - Complaints for which a complainant does not or will not provide his or her name, address or other contact information. [Alleged violations from anonymous complainants will not be investigated.]

Clackamas County Violation Priority Matrix - A representative but not exclusive listing of violations author ized by the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners for investigation upon receipt of a valid complaint as outlined in this policy. The listing is organized by Clackamas County Division and presents typical violation s in a ranked , priority order .

Confidential complaints - Complaints for which a complainant provides his or her name, address and telephone number , but requests confidentiality from the disclosure of that information pursuant to ORS 192.502 (4).

Enforceable - An alleged code enforcement case that is authorized to be investigated per the Clackamas County Violation Priority Matrix.

Environmental damage - A situation in which there may be, if left unattended, a significant or irreversible environmental impact or where the environment al condition creates a life, health and/ or safety issue. A human - made change to the environment and/or an ecosystem that , if left unmanaged or unmitigated , will take an unreasonable amount of time to regenerate or repair itself, or that causes or potentially causes additional degradation of the environment and/or ecosystem , or that creates a life, health and/ or safety hazard . (See examples in Section 3, below.)

Life, health and /or safety hazard - A situation in which there may be an element of danger or risk that , if left unattended , might impact the health and/or life safety of a person or persons. A substance, condition or combination of the same, which because of its nature, quantity, physical, chemical or infectious characteristics, causes or potentially causes a hazard to human life, health or safety . (See examples in Section 3, below.)

High priority Code Enforcement issue - Situations, actions or uses that meet the definition of a life, health and/or safety hazard or environmental damage.

2. Policy

As directed by the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners, code enforcement complaints are handled as described below. (The County does not investigate anonymous complaints regardless of type . )

When a complaint is received on an enforceable code enforcement issue , the handling of the complaint shall be as follows:

  • If the complainant provides his or her name and contact information, and does not request confidentiality, all alleged violations, regardless of type, will be investigated with one complaint.
  • If the complaint addresses a situation in which there is a potential life, health and/or safety or environmental damage issue, and the complainant requests confidentiality, the alleged violation will be investigated with one confidential complaint.
  • If the complaint addresses a situation in which there is not a potential life, health and/or safety or environmental damage issue and the complainant requests confidentiality, a minimum of two distinctly separate confidential complaints must be received before the alleged violation will be investigated.
  • If the complaint addresses a situation in which there is not a potential life, health and/or safety or environmental damage issue on a property where there is criminal activity confirmed by the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office, and the complainant requests confidentiality, the alleged violation will be investigated with one confidential complaint.

3. Determination of Life, Health and/or Safety Hazards and Environmental Damage

The determination of whether a situation, action or use poses a threat to human life, health and/or safety or may cause environmental damage shall be considered within the scope of the codes, rules and ordinances enforced by the various County Divisions.

If it is unclear whether a situation, action or use meets the definition of life, health and/or safety hazard or environmental damage, the Building Codes Administrator, consulting with the appropriate Division Manager, shall make the determination.

The following examples shall serve as a guideline to determine what constitutes a life, health and/or safety or environmental issue.

Life Hazards

Examples of situations, actions or uses that pose an immediate or potential threat to human life:

  • The following situations or actions, without permits:
    • New commercial/industrial construction
    • Structural remodels of and additions to commercial/industrial structures
    • Electrical/plumbing installations in commercial/industrial uses
    • Mechanical installations in commercial/industrial structures
    • Additions/remodels to single family residences or accessory structures
  • Life-threatening electrical installations in apartments and single family residences
  • Mechanical installations in residential structures involving fuel oil, natural gas or propane
  • Installation of or modifications to wood burning appliances, including exhaust systems

Health Hazards

Examples of situations, actions or uses that pose an immediate or potential threat to human health:

  • Failing sewage disposal system discharging sewage to the ground surface
  • Plumbing cross connections
  • Accumulation of putrescible (i.e. household) waste
  • Accumulation of animal feces in the urban area
  • Dead animals, human remains or body parts
  • Hoarding, where building systems become inoperable, where exits are obstructed or where an unsanitary condition is created as a result

Safety Hazards

Examples of situations, actions or uses that pose an immediate or potential threat to human safety:

  • Conversion of residential structures to commercial structures that are open to the public
  • Conversion of residential structures to commercial structures where an increased potential for fire or explosion exists, regardless of whether or not the structure is open to the public
  • New decks greater than one story in height where no permits have been issued
  • Newly constructed swimming pools without adequate pool barriers that were constructed without a permit
  • Dangerous buildings that are open, accessible, vandalized and/or dilapidated and/or have become a harbor for vagrants or where illicit activity occurs
  • Excavation and/or fill near property lines where a potential collapse and/or slide would impact the adjacent property or obstruct a protected waterway
  • Sight obstructions created by vegetation growing or structures placed on or adjacent to the traveled portion of County maintained roads
  • Structures or vegetation blocking or restricting visibility of STOP or YIELD signs on all roads
  • Illegal signs that look like a STOP sign or other traffic control device
  • Obstructions including rock, mud or debris in traveled portions of the County road right-of-way which cause a hazard
  • Steep driveway entrances causing or creating the potential for mud, rock or water to reach the traveled portion of County-maintained roads or sidewalks or where potential collapse and/or slide would impact the adjacent property or obstruct a protected waterway
  • Drainage onto the traveled portion of County-maintained roads, especially during the winter when ice can form and create a hazard

Environmental Damage Hazards

Examples of situations, actions or uses that cause or may cause damage to the environment:

  • Fill placed within a river, stream or wetland or other protected waterway
  • Cutting trees within a Principle River Conservation Area (PRCA) or River and Stream Conservation Area (RSCA)
  • Surface mining without proper permits and authorizations
  • Dumping of chemicals or other substances into a waterway
  • Unsafe conditions caused by excavation and/or grading

For more information about Code Enforcement complaints and related issues, contact Diane Bautista at dianebau@clackamas.us