A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Demolition: A question about Albany’s code

Written February 19th, 2020 by Hasso Hering

This was 610 Sherman St. SE on Tuesday afternoon.

As reported at the time, a city contractor tore down David Furry’s 891-square-foot house at 610 Sherman St. on Jan. 27. Since then I’ve tried to find out more about it, and I still have a question.

It is this: Regardless of the reasons cited, where does an Albany official get the authority to demolish somebody’s house? The answer has to be in the part of the municipal code on buildings that the city building official has declared to be dangerous. At least that’s what you would think.

Which brings us to Section 18.28.02o in the Albany Municipal Code: “Abatement of dangerous buildings, structures, and premises.” All such places, the code says, “shall be abated by repair, rehabilitation, demolition, or removal in accordance with the procedures specified herein.”

So what are these specified procedures? “These standards shall be followed by the building official and by the Board of Appeals in ordering the repair or demolition of any derelict or dangerous building…  (1) Any condition that results in a building … being declared a dangerous building … shall be repaired in accordance with the current building code … or (2) the building or structure shall be demolished at the option of the building owner, subject to issuance of a demolition permit by the Building Division.”

At the option of the owner, it says. There’s nothing in the code that says any city official can order the demolition if the owner does not choose that option. It’s implied, certainly, but you’d think that the confiscation and destruction of somebody’s home — no matter how poor a home it might have been — requires a plainly stated authorization in law, and maybe even an order by a judge.

In Oregon, even confiscating a firearm from a person posing an imminent risk requires a judge’s order. But houses can be taken because the police say it’s dangerous?

The city council, as the Albany Revitalization Agency, is getting a report on this and other code enforcement actions when it meets at 5:15 Wednesday (tonight).

The report from code compliance officer Kris Schendel says the city plans to foreclose on the now-empty lot to recover its costs. The costs include $14,100 billed by Apex Property Clearing for the demolition, plus thousands of dollars more for repeatedly boarding up the place, and a meth inspection by a Portland lab that found contamination in three spots.

Taxes on the property have not been paid for the last four years. The question is whether anybody will buy the lot if he has to pay both the city’s liens plus more than $5,000 in taxes owed. (hh)

10 responses to “Demolition: A question about Albany’s code”

  1. Ray Kopczynski says:

    As you say, the demolition process would be “implied.” No kidding. No ifs, and, or buts about it! Making a presumption that if the owner said “no” to the demolition, and since the owner of this drug house was continuously flouting the law (as I read the news reports), and not making repairs and getting rid of the drugs, I believe there would be no chance he would have done all the repairs and abatement required – based on the reports in the DH (and your blog). His actions and past history are proof positive of that IMO. The demolition of that house was long overdue for that neighborhood.

  2. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    The right of a private property owner to destroy their property is narrow. Laws, historic preservation regs, zoning ordinances, deed restrictions, etc., many barriers get in the way.

    But the right of a city government to destroy private property is broad. Virtually any reason will do.

    This situation is yet another piece of evidence that Albany citizens live in a controlocracy – where city government can tell its citizens what to do and control in detail what its citizens can’t do.

    It doesn’t matter whether the issue is a plastic bag or your house. There is an addictive quality to having the power to intervene with coercive force.

    • Jasper says:

      Gordon, if the “controlocracy” that governs Albany has a rule against having a house being a major drug house, the building falling in onto itself, providing the owner more than enough time to fix/repair the house, and having consequences for failing to meet all 3 of these standards, than every city in the state of Oregon is a “controlocracy”….

  3. Jasper says:

    You want people to be outraged over Mr. Furry’s own wrongdoing, and trying to blame the City for “not taking the correct steps”. This is very incorrect, and even Mr. Furry gave the reason his house was taken from him:

    “Civil forfeiture allows police to seize and then keep or sell any property they allege is involved in a crime. Owners need not ever be arrested or convicted for their cash, cars or even real estate to be taken away permanently by the gov. Civil forfeiture often results in the loss of property by owners who make disastrous mistakes by for example not filing their claims in a timely manner or in proper form. Oregon law requires a criminal conviction for civil forfeitures. They must then link the property to the crime to justify its forfeiture.”

    This was his own post in your last article regarding the demo. He himself made the “disastrous mistake” of taking the house that he purchased, and transforming it into a meth den. They were able to link his house to the crimes he committed based off the inspections that they performed for meth in 3 spots of the house. There is nobody to blame here except Mr. Furry himself for choosing to do this to his house.

    As for if the City was legally able to obtain the land and demo the house, they were 100% within the capabilities. The City could have done this years ago, when they first started working with Mr. Furry and his destroyed house, but they provided him a way to change his life and rebuild, but he chose not to and is now loving with his choice.

  4. J. Jacobson says:

    It seems that in Hering Land, regardless of how despicable one’s actions might be, if those actions are carried-out under the cover of Hering’s obeisance to alleged, inviolate private property rights (aka-falling down meth house) then there is no allowable remedy for the rest of society.

    In Hering Land, what he has determined to be “the tyranny of the majority is not allowed,” unless it has to do with subjects that are pleasing to Hering and his acolytes. Given this propensity for situational ethics and blatant flip-flopping, it seems prudent for one to monitor Hering-Thought to make certain one is on the correct side.

  5. centrist says:

    So, HH baited a hook and cast it forth.
    A feeding frenzy and blamestorm followed. Seems he asked a question about procedure, but others read that as a position and built upon that.

  6. Ean says:

    I have a very cursory understanding of this case but it seems like one ripe for ACLU involvement, I imagine the City was very careful to go through the proper channels on this one considering how much money is behind the ACLU and other civil liberty organizations. Then again with the death of Scalia maybe our 4th amendment rights are slowly eroding anyway.


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