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Agenda & Minutes

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Mayor & Council (View All)

City Council Study Session Agenda & Minutes

Thursday, July 14, 2016

July 14, 2016
12:00 PM
Medford Room
411 West 8th Street, Medford, Oregon 
  1. Boards & Commissions Interviews – Unified Appeal Board
  2. International Property Maintenance Code

12:00 PM
Medford Room
411 West 8th Street, Medford, Oregon 

The Medford City Council Study Session was called to order at 12:00 p.m. in the Medford Room of Medford City Hall on the above date with the following members and staff present:
Mayor Gary Wheeler; Councilmembers Clay Bearnson, Chris Corcoran, Tim Jackle, *Kevin Stine, Michael Zarosinski
City Manager Pro Tem Alison Chan; Deputy City Manager Bill Hoke; *City Attorney Lori Cooper; Deputy City Attorney Kevin McConnell; Deputy City Manager/Development Services Chris Reising; Planning Director Jim Huber; Deputy City Recorder Winnie Shepard
*Arrived as noted.
Boards & Commissions Interviews – Unified Appeal Board
Council conducted interviews of Jim Akery and Benjamin Marincus for two vacancies on the Unified Appeal Board.
International Property Maintenance Code (IPMC)
City Manager Pro Tem Alison Chan explained the history of this issue, noting the current Code is approximately 40 years old.  Deputy City Manager for Development Services Chris Reising noted this revision will help resolve vacant and/or abandoned buildings, boarded-up/nuisance properties.   
  • Requires derelict structures to be registered within ten days
  • Must be repaired or demolished within six months
 *City Attorney Lori Cooper arrived.  
  • Appeals are handled by the Unified Appeal Board
  • This Code will apply to commercial and residential properties
  • Building Department prefers to work with owners to comply and resolve issues
  • Penalties are pursuant to Medford Code and not determined by IPMC
  • Needs to be updated to clarify what makes a structure “derelict”
  • IPMC is designed to be compatible with the National Code that will streamline enforcement
Deputy City Attorney Kevin McConnell noted there are houses that are abandoned or in disrepair.  Unfortunately, the City can do little to tackle blighted, vacant homes. Under the City Code, boarded up properties that are not otherwise a danger to public health or safety are not in violation of the Code.  The IPMC will not permit property owners to board up their properties. Instead, property owners will have to bring their properties up to Code. The Building Department looked at revising the substandard Code, writing a whole new Code or using the IPMC.
The following process was explained on how a building will be demolished using the IPMC: 
  • Complaint received
  • Investigation by Code Enforcement
  • If violation, order to repair or demolish
  • Can be appealed to the Unified Appeal Board, which can sustain or overrule a Code Enforcement order
  • An order to repair is issued if sustained or not appealed
  • If owner refuses to repair or demolish, the City can abate 
Records Specialist/Code Enforcement Suzi Gish explained that Code Enforcement does try to notify every person who has “touched” property.  However, the ownership can be difficult to determine, especially when banks sell loans.
The City should have the ability to hold owners responsible; banks believed the borrower should be responsible for the cost of repair.
A receivership is a separate ordinance and can be obtained without going through the IPMC process.  A receivership would only be recommended in very serious cases; IPMC will apply to most property issues.
Mr. McConnell and Councilmember Jackle discussed the definition of owner as defined by the IPMC and the Code; specifically whether lenders were considered owners as they do not hold title, but do have interest in the property.
Deputy City Manager/Development Services Chris Reising clarified there can be difficult situations with foreclosed properties when the bank is the only entity with the authority to make decisions on the property.
*Kevin Stine arrived 12:47 p.m.
Mr. McConnell requested direction on which definition Council would like to see #1 or #2 or none at all.
  • The IPMC and the receivership stand on their own; Council does not need both, but could have both
  • The Council will decide receivership on an individual basis
  • Receiverships are not reversible; after Council approves, it is referred to the Jackson County Circuit Court
Councilmember Jackle suggested Council consider a different process for lenders.  Should they be held responsible for damages for their home-loan customers? 
Ms. Gish spoke regarding Code Enforcement’s efforts to locate blighted properties.  Citizens are frustrated with the blight; she suggested the Code be revised to provide timelines for repair and/or demolition to eliminate the problem in neighborhoods.  Ms. Gish noted 22 properties are registered with the vacant properties registration and the banks do pay the fines. 
  • Homes owned by banks
    • Banks are disputing ownership until completed foreclosure
    • If homes are abandoned do the banks own them?
    • Banks do not believe they own the property until the foreclosure is finalized, although they have the right to repair the property
    • Council can define an owner, which may be different than mortgage law
    • When banks do not respond to our violation notices, fees are incurred
    • Banks continue to receive monthly payments through mortgage insurance 
Councilmember Jackle stated he would never allow a bank representative to enter a property without a court order and believed they could be charged with trespass. Council discussed whether banks could legally make repairs to properties without completed foreclosures. 
Medford Police Department can track owners fairly well; Code Enforcement utilizes an online system with real time information on property ownership.
Mayor Wheeler asked whether Council should direct staff to prepare ordinance with proper Code amendments to bring it back in August. 
Council continued discussions.  Clarifying that IPMC enables the City to make improvements and/or demolish the house and put a lien on the property for our funding.  To obtain our funds, we would foreclose or lien the property.  Would we be trespassing on their property to make the improvements and/or demolition?  Mr. McConnell didn’t believe it would be trespass, as the repairs preserve public health, safety and welfare.
Councilmembers discussed whether this should come forward in August, 2016.  After brief discussion, majority of Council agreed or were neutral to the idea. 
It was clarified that this would not require a public hearing, as it is an ordinance. 
The meeting adjourned at 1:14 p.m.
Winnie Shepard
Deputy City Recorder


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