A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Demolition: Consider the city’s process

Written January 27th, 2020 by Hasso Hering

David Furry after watching his house being demolished on Monday.

David Furry, 60, says he’s now homeless after the city of Albany demolished his house at 610 Sherman St. S.E. on Monday. After watching this for a bit, I have some questions about the process that led to the demolition being ordered and carried out.

County records show Furry has been the owner of this house since September 1995, when he bought it for $20,000. First thing he did, he recalls, was jack it up and put a foundation under it.

The city says it acted after a litany of problems with the house — a history of code violations, most recently on Sept. 6 when the police served a search warrant and took Furry and his wife to jail on meth charges. The city’s code enforcer went along on the raid and posted the house as dangerous and unfit to live in. Since then, the city says, people entered anyway in violation of the city’s order, and the required repairs were not made.

One thing to know: If your house is boarded up as dangerous and you dispute any of the city’s allegations of code violations and appeal, as Furry did, you will be barred from making repairs until the appeal is decided.  In this case it took two months. This seems like a wrong-headed rule if the goal is to get things fixed.

And unless a house is in danger of collapse, why order people to stay out of it even if they have no other home or money for motels? And then why charge them with crimes if they get in anyway? What if they need a roof over their head?

Among the deficiencies in the house were problems with electric wiring. On Jan. 3, the building division gave Furry a permit to add outlets to existing circuits. The permit was good until this coming July. The next permit listed for the property is one sought by the police to block the street for the demolition.

As he was watching his house torn down Monday, with police standing by, Furry was wondering how the city could do that. He had gone to Legal Aid to get some advice, he said, and been given an appointment — for Monday afternoon.

The community has an obvious interest in housing that’s safe and clean inside and out. And the city code evidently gives the city the right, when other steps have failed, to order a house destroyed.

But before we take people’s houses and smash them to smithereens, no matter the circumstances or justifications, we ought to insist on at least a level of judicial review high enough to make sure that the owners’ rights are protected, even when they don’t have the money to hire a lawyer. (hh)









10 responses to “Demolition: Consider the city’s process”

  1. thomas cordier says:

    Thanks HH for opening the story. Seems like eminent domain decision was made by the City Manager. I believe the owner must be compensated to the value of the house. I suggest he file with the Linn County DA to collect damages

    • My Real Name John Hartman says:

      The revelatory fact Hering proffers in this maudlin harangue is that the owner seems not to have done much to mitigate the situation until it was far too late.

      By Hering’s own words, we know the trashed house was purchased in 1995, but we are only made aware of the “tragedy” in 2020 when the drug den gets ripped down. Are we to believe that from 1995 until now, the owner had No Other Options as to how to remediate the property. I just wish that Hering and his acolytes had as much sympathy for truly homeless individuals who were unable to purchase a home 25-years ago and then let it slip-slide into a meth-filled catastrophe. Sorry…but the faux empathy exhibited in this screed do not ring true.

  2. Ray Kopczynski says:

    I believe your follow-on comment by the City Manager to your 01-26 article is very succinct. (Especially when dealing with meth.) The owner has had more than ample time to get violations addressed IMO.

  3. J. Jacobson says:

    Finally…the community sensibility wins out over some phony devotion by some to individual rights. I suggest the author live next door to a boarded_up meth house for awhile before the author and his support group get to far up on their high horses.

    The guy was given ample YEARS to start repairing the building, yet we don’t hear a thing about the meth house teardown until there has been ZERO progress for several years.

    In this instance, the fair-weather fans defending this property owner, would be the FIRST people to yowl at the City if they were forced to stare at this property year-in and year-out. Sometimes the precious right of individuality necessarily takes backseat to community standards.

    Sorry, but more than ample time was granted. The owner chose to do nothing. The owner chose to allow meth heads to pollute. The owner caused multiple, costly visits by Police, by City inspectors, by the City attorney office, etcetera. Why must the community give seeming endless opportunity and spend precious tax dollars policing this matter.

    We do not live in isolation. Neither this home owner, nor those who shriek injustice about his self-created dilemma, have the right to destroy neighborhood property values.

  4. Jim Engel says:

    So H. H., would your point of view be different if that house was next to yours? Or in your neighborhood?

  5. Steve Reynolds says:

    If there’s one thing I think the city could improve upon, it’s communication with the community (and those outside the community that are watching). They should explain what is going on when they take an action like this. Send correspondence out in emails, City Bridges, Facebook, Twitter, written form in the water and sewer bills, tell HH way before hand; make their case. Explain the dangers having this situation around families and especially small children, show photographs, uncensored even if shocking, lay out the behavior of the person responsible, shine a light on the drugs causing this issue. As it is now, Salem is probably going to look at this and come after us, did we do enough? Especially on a hot button issue like this, the city needs to make the case, homelessness vs. lawlessness. Marilyn Smith is one of the best public relations people around, I think the city should utilize her talents and become more engaged when these decisions are necessary.

  6. Cap says:

    You are all heartless s.o.b.s….not literally, because I don’t want to blame your mothers.

    The old saying “You Can’t Fight City Hall” is sure the truth. The owner had an appointment with Legal Aid the Monday after his house was demolished, but the wheels at City Hall were already in motion.

    All of you who write in such a cold vein should pool your money and buy this man a motel room.

    • Jasper says:

      Here is some information for you to prove that the City is not heartless as you believe it might be.

      After Mr. Furry was arrest the first time, in about 2011 or 2012, his house was originally labeled as inhabitable due to the amount of damage and “repairs” that Mr. Furry had done to his house.

      As it came closer to Mr. Furry’s release from his sentence, he worked together with the building official at the time. The building official gave Mr. Furry the ability to pull a permit and correct all outstanding issues that were originally posted at the time of his arrest. There were also strict rules that Mr. Furry had to follow in order to remain in compliance. Nobody was to be on the property except Mr. Furry, city staff, police, and contractors, provided he supplied proof that a contract was made for the repairs and the contractors were licensed in the State of Oregon. Mr. Furry was also only allowed on the property during time of construction hours (7 AM to 6 PM). Mr. Furry had repeatedly broke this agreement by having guests at his residence and being on the premises outside of the hours agreed upon, but he was given multiple “2nd chances” and corrected the issues provided.

      After this last police raid, he was given a list of all issues that were on his property again. Mr. Furry then brought this to the building board of appeals instead of getting a permit and fixing the issues. When a case goes to the appeals board, all work must cease on the property as it is currently evidence for a case. Mr. Furry was made aware of this before he submitted his appeal, and followed through with his decision.

      He was not left out in the streets randomly, and he was provided multiple chances to bring his house into compliance with the City. If you feel like Mr. Furry was wronged by this process, you should pay for him to have a room to sleep in and assist him in “going after” the city for this outcome.

  7. David a Furry says:

    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.

  8. Sarhe says:

    Basically, David Furry had his house torn down because the house was a wreck posing dangers to him and the community around the house and David Furry violated the agreement with the city several times during a time span of nearly 8 -9 years.
    My question is David Furry wanting the public to be outraged that city demolished his house for his FAILURE to fix it in accordance to the agreement he entered with the city???

    I personally dont. David Furry had ample time to fix up the disrepair of the home.

    IMO…its not right to word a post in an attempt to garner outrage against the city for handling an issue with David Furry’s home. Its not the city’s fault, David Furry didnt make the necessary repairs that over a period of nearly a decade.

    At least the neighborhood and the city has a cleaner future!


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