A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

On Vine, council nixes permanent encroachments

Written December 13th, 2021 by Hasso Hering

The city likely won’t issue a license to build a gate here, at 636 Sixth Ave. S.W., on the Vine Street right-of-way next to the Santiam Canal.

The Albany City Council is not too sure what to do about encroachments on the Vine Street right-of-way that lines the Santiam canal. But council members are clear on one thing;  They don’t want to allow permanent structures in the undeveloped space.

And so, they won’t authorize the owners at 636 Sixth Ave. S.W. to put a gate across the city-owned right-of-way.

That pretty much sums up what I got from a discussion of the Vine Street issue during Monday’s council work session.

Along several sections of the canal, which runs down the middle of what is Vine Street between Sixth and 12th Avenues, the street is undeveloped and only the right-of-way exists. And neighboring properties have expanded into the space, with sheds, parked vehicles, landscaping, and storage of various things.

The owners on Sixth wanted to put up a gate to secure their stuff that’s stored in the right-of way. This involved a concrete footing for a post, the council was told, and it was too much for those members who said something.

The city staff had proposed to issue the owners, and others along the canal similarly situated, licenses to occupy the right-of-way. This would legitimize their use but also assert the city’s ownership of the land.

But as a result of the discussion, Gorden Steffensmeier, the engineer in Public Works who brought this to the council, said he would tell the owners on Sixth that the license to occupy would not be forthcoming.

One way to resolve the situation is to build a street in the unused sections of the Vine Street right-of-way. But that would take years and a ton of money, and the council showed no inclination to go that route.

So how does the city intend to enforce its ownership of the right-of-way while also allowing continued use, without permanent installations, of the space that’s been occupied, in some cases for decades?

City Manager Peter Troedsson said he’ll present a plan to the council when it meets for its regular session on Wednesday night. (hh)




8 responses to “On Vine, council nixes permanent encroachments”

  1. MarK says:

    Sounds like Kate’s latest mask mandate. “It’s permanent, but permanent doesn’t mean permanent.”

  2. Connie says:

    There is an easy way to solve this problem. Just start walking these shortcuts and before you know it the stuff will be discarded or pulled back into the owners’ yards. Fences will appear like magic.

    I would enjoy walking along the canal, pavement is not necessary.

  3. The beast says:

    I used to ride my bike the entire length of the canal when I was younger on my way to downtown. I would like to do it again without all the obstacles

  4. TLH-ALB1 says:

    The fix to the problem…
    Those living along there, can just encroach their stuff back within their property lines.
    Start enforcing the laws….Clear the street.

  5. hj.anony1 says:

    Wishy Washy Council. Worse than a bad managed HOA.

    • centrist says:

      Seems that the presumption is that the Council is both all-knowing and all-powerful. Uhmmm, no.

      • hj.anony1 says:

        Never meant to imply that. In fact, this mess didn’t happen over night. So blame goes more to the members of past councils. One hopes the current wishy washy council can clean up this mess. -hja1

  6. Julie Y says:

    I used to ride my bike all along vine street. It was such a nice route with hardly any cars.
    We used to know an older woman that lived along the canal and when we drove her home we used the easement to drop her off.
    It may be underdeveloped but it’s a public street and it’s not meant for people to store vehicles and place sheds, let alone fence off.


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