News Release from: Clackamas Co. Sheriff's Office
Posted: Thursday, Nov. 3, 2016, 2:15 p.m.
Problem houses can turn neighborhoods into nightmares. But the "Neighborhood Livability Project" can help. The Project -- a partnership between the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office and several community and agency partners -- is dramatically outlined in a new video on our YouTube channel and Facebook feed:
VIDEO: The Neighborhood Livability Project (Clackamas County Sheriff's Office)
ABOUT THE PROJECT:
The "Neighborhood Livability Project" is a new initiative that's helping address problem houses in Clackamas County.
And it's already getting results.
It started in March of 2015, when several county agencies began working on a problem house at 3915 SE Risley.
The house was under foreclosure. Squatters had taken up residence inside -- and turned it into a flop house.
Neighbors reported a constant flow of drugs, drug users, and all the crime that comes with it. Used drug paraphernalia littered neighbor's lawns. Human waste piled up. That attracted rats and other vermin. The neighborhood was in disarray. And as fast as we arrested offenders, they returned. Residents had adopted a bunker mentality.
Cleaning up a house like this is a complicated process. It used to require months of coordinated effort from agencies and citizens. Officials have to smooth the criminal process for drug offenders. They have to speed up the foreclosure process at a time when banks and courts are overwhelmed with foreclosures. Code Enforcement officers have to step up enforcement of community health and livability zoning laws. Neighbors and officials need to organize a Neighborhood Watch and public meetings. Officials need to find the property owner and get the residence declared a nuisance.
Deputies Karen Moss and Mark Nikolai saw similar problems developing along McLoughlin and in East County -- and they saw how bureaucracy was easily overwhelmed by the problem.
So they took action.
Using lessons learned from the Risley house, Deputies Moss and Nikolai started leading the Sheriff's Office and partner agencies in a new direction.
Deputy Moss coordinated with the DA's Office and Code Enforcement. They enlisted Deputy Joel Manley -- whose success with community policing in Overland Park had lasting, positive effects.
Deputy Moss then started a workgroup to identify 20 neighborhood problem houses in the county.
This workgroup included members of Clackamas County Code Enforcement and H3S, plus Crime Prevention CSO Sara McClurg and several deputies.
They focused on seven houses already under investigation along the Highway 99E corridor and in East County.
Each property was assigned a lead investigating deputy. That deputy coordinated intelligence, identified key players, enlisted neighbors, formulated a plan and coordinated law enforcement, human services and neighborhood response.
This coordinated approach allowed deputies, agencies, county counsel and neighbors to work together to clean up neighborhoods far more efficiently.
This effort is known today as the "Neighborhood Livability Project." And a process that took months or years has now been shortened to weeks -- with fewer costs and fewer negative impacts.
Several houses have been closed, boarded and cleaned up thanks to the Project, with more to come. And problems are now solved at a rate of several per month, instead of a few per year.
The effort has been a big hit and has been widely praised by affected neighbors -- as you'll see in our new video.
Nuisance houses are a major focus of the Sheriff's Office's enforcement efforts. Working with our community partners we believe we've created a less expensive and more efficient way to address a complicated problem.
NEIGHBORS: GET HELP TODAY
If you have a problem residence in your neighborhood -- where there is excessive solid waste, criminal-type behavior and/or other issues that could fall under the Clackamas County Nuisance Ordinance -- the Neighborhood Livability Project would like to hear from you. You can call your local law- or code-enforcement agency to learn about your options. Clackamas County residents can call the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office at 503-785-5000 or Clackamas County Code Enforcement at 503-742-4452.
To learn more about Clackamas County's code pertaining to chronic nuisances, click here.
Sergeant Brian Jensen
Office of Public Information
Clackamas County Sheriff's Office