A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Street appeal denied: Checking the scene

Written January 29th, 2023 by Hasso Hering

The scene on Jan. 27: The Vanderburg house on the left, the former stub of Jefferson Street in the middle, Helping Hands on the right.

Last week I wanted to see if anything had changed since the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals rejected an Albany homeowner’s appeal from a city decision to abandon a short section of public street so the Helping Hands homeless shelter can expand.

On the bike I went by the place on Friday and looked around a little. And no, as far as I could see, nothing had changed on the ground.

Last August, the city council voted 4-3 to abandon a dead-end stub of Jefferson Street, 150 feet long and 66 feet wide, north of Ninth Avenue.

Before that, the planning commission had appproved a conditional use permit to allow Helping Hands to add office space and about 30 beds. The expansion, though, would trigger the need for more parking under the city’s development code.

This prompted the city staff to initiate abandoning the short section of Jefferson Street. When a public street is vacated, adjoining owners get half the space on each side. This would allow the shelter to add parking.

Tina Vanderburg, who owns the house on the west corner of Jefferson and Ninth Avenue, across the street from the shelter, opposed the vacation. She complained about objectionable behavior of people hanging around outside the shelter. She also feared the vacation would keep her from parking on the side of her house.

(What “behavior,” you ask. I don’t know. She gave the council photos, but the council did not share them with the public. On Friday, there was a big pile of human feces in the stormwater swale at the corner of Ninth and Jefferson, in front of her house.)

Vanderburg appealed the street vacation to the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA). She filed the appeal on her own, without  a lawyer’s help, on Oct. 28.

LUBA faulted her petition for not meeting legal requirements, including that it was not double-spaced, and told her to amend the paperwork.

On Nov. 7 she filed an amended petition. LUBA said it failed to comply with applicable regulations “in at least seven respects.”

But the board accepted it anyway. This month, on Jan. 5, the three members of the board upheld the council’s decision to vacate the street.

“Petitioner has not demonstrated that the factual dispute in the parties’ briefs about whether and how parking and trespassing conflicts will be resolved was raised below or that any evidence in the record is contrary to the city’s conclusion that the vacation will best serve the public interest….,” the board wrote.

That’s where the matter rests. What happens next? Beats me.

There are “no parking” signs on the side of Helping Hands where the shelter now could develop parking spaces.

The city’s online register of building permits shows no permit for any expansion at the shelter. If and when I reach somebody at Helping Hands, I’ll try to find out if the expansion is still in the works. (hh)

The side of Helping Hands with “no parking” signs along Jefferson Street. The vacation left a “public access” easement on the street, 25 feet wide.

13 responses to “Street appeal denied: Checking the scene”

  1. Cap B. says:

    Too much information, Hasso. (I suppose there is an acronym for that, but I don’t like acronyms.) We don’t need to know that human feces is draining into the stormwater which is then processed, I suppose, and put back into the water supply! Gawd!!! Yes, I prefer to not know the specifics of certain things nowadays. Too depressing.

    • Hasso Hering says:

      Actually, stormwater from the city’s catch basins and swales goes straight to the rivers. The stormwater pipes are separate from the sanitary sewer system.

  2. chris j says:

    Thank you for pointing out how easy it is to railroad the regular people. Many people in Albany have suffered the same fate. Please keep up the good work. There are always two sides of the story even if no one is willing to listen to both of them.

    • Jayeson Vance says:

      So true if you do not have legal counsel and are just Jane Schmoe, so to speak, or Joe S., the govt. and the powerful may circumvent you with ease it appears.

  3. CHEZZ says:

    There are other unsolved issues within the organization.

  4. thomas earl cordier says:

    Sometimes facts are not easy to observe. NOT TOO MUCH INFO.
    The fact is Helping hands administration is not managing their clients according to APD as seen in ADH paper. I am astounded the Council did not listen to the near neighbors concerns–actually not even showing the public to picture evidence she presented.
    Shame on the old Council. Maybe the new one will pay attention.

    • Hartman says:

      I was not aware that Helping Hands had not been “managing their clients.”

      Is Helping Hands akin to a Sports Management organization, attempting to extract as much cash as possible?

      Do Albany statutes require charitable organizations to “manage” their “clients” when the “clients” are out on the street?

      Just exactly what is it the writer is asking for?

      And why is it that anytime an organization attempts to help solve a problem the rest of Albany prefers to ignore, those same organizations are castigated? Apparently, the ministers in all those churches that overrun our streets (and who pay no property taxes while receiving full City protections like Fire and Police) pay small heed to the words of the Baby Jesus when he said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”

      Perhaps, if the ministers and the congregations of all the Albany Houses of the Holy were serious about their “beliefs,” situations like the Helping Hands street vacation might not ever arise.

      • Al Nyman says:

        With your usual castigation, you impugn the churches who have done more for the homeless than the City of Albany. The Catholic Church has been feeding the homeless forever, at least the last 30 years. Wasn’t it a Church that asked the city for permission to put up a porta potti for the homeless and took a bunch of flack yet I don’t see the city doing anything to help them other than rousting them out of their camps. The homeless problem is huge but the government has spent billions of dollars and it continues to get worse. I would bet you voted for measure 110 which decriminalized the possession of small quantities of drugs and per a report I saw, 20% of Oregon residents are addicts (alcohol and drugs combined). You need to get a life and quit watching left wing news outlets.

      • thomas earl cordier says:

        I was not aware that Helping Hands had not been “managing their clients.”
        Front page ADH article very recent–APD says admin folks at Help Hands are not cooperating like they were before staff changes. You know how to read so become aware

    • The Truth says:

      I am shocked people feel the government should retain land that they did not intend to use instead of giving it back to the property owners it should belong to. Seem like a great move by council, especially when they clearly told the one property owner that objected APD actually had greater authority to enforce the laws on the books as it would be private property instead of public.

      I applaud council for giving something back to the people instead of being afraid to give up their public land. That is something other government agencies need to do rather than just keep taking.

      Now hopefully APD can do their jobs and next year Hasso can do a follow up on how everything worked out for the better.

  5. Joanna S says:

    Thanks for the update.

  6. Al Edmonds says:

    When an organization fails to live up to its obligation to manage its program with excellence, then it does more harm than good. As it is said, the road to Hell is paved with good and noble intentions. It is a fact that the homeless are plagued with drug abuse and psychosis (otherwise they would not live as they do) “Non-judgmental is an aphorism for incompetent and arrogant. Simple rules. Clean up garbage. No drugs or booze. Don’t harass neighbors. Keep the grounds and neighborhood free of garbage and litter. Jesus did not praise good intentions when the result was detrimental to the social order. If ‘Helping Hands’ cannot help than it either needs to change its mission and management or cease to exist. By the way, check out the City of Salem’s homeless budget. Their published ‘success’ rate of getting folks off the street is less than 25%. all at an exorbitant cost per client–tens of thousands of dollars (How much money goes to ‘overhead’ and how much goes to program).

  7. chris j says:

    “The truth” is that the more private space the shelter has the more people can accumulate. The shelter is overwhelmed as it is and they fully admit it. Anyone who drives by the shelter knows this. APD are there all the time no matter who manages it.


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