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Media Advisory: Bureau of Development Services Level of Service Update: Enforcement /Complaint Operational Changes and Priorities


City of Portland, Bureau of Development Services





October 21, 2009

Contact: Ross Caron, Bureau of Development Services 503.823.4268

(Portland, OR) In order to maintain the highest possible service level with limited resources, the Compliance Services Section and the Neighborhood Inspections Section have combined to maximize available resources in order to respond to as many complaints as possible. The newly combined Neighborhood Inspections & Compliance Services Section will operate Zoning, Noise, Work without Permit, Dangerous Buildings, Signs & A-Boards, Nuisance, Housing, Derelict Buildings, Exterior Maintenance Requirements on non-Residential Structures and Chapter 13/Systematic Inspection enforcement programs.

Due to the high reduction in enforcement inspection staff, it is also necessary to prioritize the various types of complaint investigation and enforcement cases. This will allow the workgroup to focus on the most critical violations relative to fire, life safety, health, sanitation, environmental and neighborhood livability.

“I understand the importance of our enforcement programs, which provide safety and livability services for our neighborhoods and commercial business,” said Paul Scarlett, Bureau Director, “and we will do our very best to continue addressing as many code complaints with the resources available at this time.”

A detailed list of enforcement / complaint operational changes and priorities is available at The following is a brief summary of the most significant changes to enforcement programs during this interim time:

  • Elimination of live phone coverage for the BDS Enforcement Hotline (503-823-CODE) for reporting complaints.
  • Elimination of Nuisance Abatements, except for the most severe Fire/Life/Safety and Health/Sanitation cases.
  • Suspension of investigations for disabled vehicles on private property and zoning inspections for passenger vehicles and recreational vehicles.
  • Suspension of investigations and abatements for storage of Non-trash items and debris.
  • Increased timelines to investigate assigned cases.
  • Suspension of investigations and abatements for tall grass and weeds and overgrowth along property lines.

If you have questions about the Bureau’s enforcement program please visit the Bureau website or contact Mike Liefeld at (503) 823-7332.



Robert Easton

November 7, 2009 at 1:53 PM

My neighbor to the North at 3139 NE 33rd Ave is dumping water onto my property from a disconnected roof drain, intended I think to drain down his driveway, but drains to my property instead. My attempt to advise him (Michael McAfferty?)resulted in his cussing me out, etc. with words I cannot repeat here. He dumped water to my property some years ago and was cited by your dept (?). Can you do something about it, given the big storm we had today on November 7th.
Thank you, Robert Easton, 3137 NE 33rd Ave, 503-281-0346.


C. Rockney

November 13, 2009 at 4:50 PM

We own an attached row house at 5916 SE 47th Avenue. A bar, Pizza Roma Coliseum, has built a covered smoking structure three feet from our daughter's bedroom window and five feet from our downstairs den, attaching it to our fence. The smell and noise prohibit us from opening our windows or enjoying our property. Doesn't the City of Portland have set back requirements for detached accessory structures? Why would this be allowed? The purpose of the standard for Detached Accessory Structures is to "Maintain separation and privacy to abutting residential lots from nonresidential development." This certainly is not the case. Please advise. Thanks.


Michael Liefeld

November 16, 2009 at 8:19 AM

Dear C. Rockney,

Thank you for contacting BDS. This appears to be an issue that BDS can investigate for compliance with building and zoning regulations. We will need additional information to setup a case and begin an investigation. Please visit our online reporting violations page, link attached, which will prompt you for the minimum information we need to investigate. Thank you.

Mike Liefeld
Bureau of Development Services


Anne Graff

December 23, 2009 at 10:18 AM

Cactus Jack Restaurant at 4342 SW Beaverton Hillsdale Highway, Portland, is once again blocking the entire sidewalk with three A-board signs lined up one after the other. This has been reported to BDS at least five times in the past two years, yet the restaurant persists in its blatant disregard for the law and for its neighbors. The signs forces everyone to walk on the highway instead of on the sidewalk. With a retirement home just blocks to the west and a rehabilitation center blocks to the east, this is unacceptable. Please make the restaurant keep the sidewalks clear.


Anonymous User

December 28, 2009 at 3:31 PM

Did the new structures (looks to be three of them) at 3730 SE 136th (or 3740 - Portland online has a different address for both the map and the description of the property) have to undergo a planning change or neighborhood notification?

I could not find a permit online and would like to know - what are the new proposed structures?



joanne ferdina

January 1, 2010 at 7:35 PM

Private residence at 615 N.E. 116th Court has had a very large rusted out boat trailer (with no boat) parked in front of home on the street for several months. It sticks out more than an auto and it is a driving hazard to be on the street. It cannot be seen well at night at all and I think it could cause a driving peril. Could you please check into this. I am writing this not just for me, but for other residents on the street. There are many people who drive down our street, not realizing it is a dead end, and they turn around and come back down. I am afraid of someone hitting it and causing what could amount to a serious accident.

Thank you for your consideration.


jeff c.

March 2, 2010 at 1:14 PM

George Morlan Plumbing on 54th and Foster is using Francis Av. as their loading dock. It is not uncommon to have to wait up to ten minutes as they unload trucks with a forklift. This is not just every now and then, it's every day! They do not yield for traffic and look at me as if I'm on their property when I try to drive through. Also, I have been yelled at for trying to park on that block. It is still one of the public streets I pay for right? Please look into this.-Jeff


bill reagan

March 7, 2010 at 2:39 PM

The main problem is people not enough officers to enforce the laws. You can contact me at and I would be glad to speak to you about it.


Chris Copley

April 5, 2010 at 3:08 PM

How come the city of Portland has allowed my neighbor to use the property boundary to put up a fence that isn't to code? We're in zone 5. What happened to the 5' setback? What about shared trees? My neighbor took it upon himself to remove a shared laurel hedge that was on the boundary line, going back to front, on our adjoining parties. He took down a Holly Tree that borders both properties at the front of our lots, technically mine, and removed most of the old cedar tree hedge that was partially on my property. I asked him to please not to do anymore removal since it was on a shared borderline; he told me it was his and he would do what he wants. He came on my property without asking and took down anything that was shared by both lots. He does not have a permit; he does have a trade permit for an addition to the home. What's going on here? A free for all to the taker? Please look into this.


Michael Liefeld

April 12, 2010 at 9:12 AM

Dear Mr. Copley,

We tried to respond to your message however the listed email address was invalid. You may file a complaint to investigate your concerns. We will need additional information to setup a case and begin an investigation. Please visit our online reporting violations page, link attached, which will prompt you for the minimum information we need to investigate. Thank you.

Mike Liefeld
Bureau of Development Services


Chris Copley

April 13, 2010 at 11:26 PM

Mike Liefeld. Thank you for responding. Not wanting to dispute this issue, but wanting to make sure you have correct email it is: lower case: the carrier is qwest, hence the "q".



June 19, 2010 at 2:39 PM

What are the laws within the city of Portland regarding neighbors overhanging branches, hedges, and the like? Are they responsible for the cost of removal from our property? If I cut them, can I put cuttings on their property?


Dave Hill

April 14, 2011 at 1:29 PM

I am concerned about a food cart court that has gone in at 1930 NE Everett St. It's the Green Castle food court.

  1. Neighbors were never notified that this court would be going in.
  2. Portland maps only shows a temporary electrical permit from Jan 2011. nothing else.
  3. Carts have started moving in and erecting covered eating structures.
  4. Planters have been placed in the public right of way. I actually bumped into the corner of one the other day in the dark.
  5. We just received notice of a liquor license application. The application states a 'building' is where but the site reveals it's a mobile bartending cart for special occasions. I don't feel the applicant is being honest on their application with the OLCC by claiming its a building. They also state there will be seating for 42 people.
  6. Trash is already showing up at my address of 125 NE 20th Ave which is literally feet away from the cart.
  7. 2 parking lots are adjacent to one another. 2 separate owners appear to be going in together and one side is for the 20 carts and the other lot is being used as parking.

I've heard the the city of portland is being a bit more attentive to all these food cart courts and the additional non-permitted structures that they are erecting. I really wished that the neighbors had a say as to whether this otherwise vacant parking lot should have even become a food cart court. Its causing us additional stress, safety and loitering concerns. Please advice. Thank you in advance. -Dave


Drexler Mcstyles

May 14, 2011 at 4:38 PM

In regards to the post about the Green Castle Food Court.
I suppose you preferred when this lot was a dumping ground for unwanted furnishing and trash? Where the homeless would build mattress forts and get into fight that required the police to come on a weekly basis?
Your comment about the trash is absurd. They have 2 (well concealed) large trash bins and I have never seen any trash outside of them. The bid for the liquor license has been dropped. I live in one of the buildings adjacent to these lots and nine out of ten people in the neighborhood that I speak to are happy to have these carts there. I dont understand why you feel like you should have a say in what goes there. If the owner had decided to build condos would he have needed to consult with you first?
You do not represent the general consensus on the feeling about this food court, as the majority of people in the neighborhood are very happy to have it.



June 5, 2013 at 11:32 PM

I am looking for the same information that was asked by a poster named Sandy above. I am also interested in finding out about feral cats. My neighbor has both a giant laurel hedge hanging over my property, and feeds about 10-20 feral cats on her property that come and use my yard and garden as their litter box. These cats have no collars or visible identification. I am allergic to cat dander, and they have dug up and destroyed several plants in my yard, causing monetary damage. Who can I call about these cats? What are the laws regarding overhanging hedges? It would require a professional with a cherry picker to reach the top of the hedge to trim it. Is my neighbor required to pay for this? And to cover removal of the branches?



June 24, 2014 at 12:45 PM

I have the same question as Sandy and Katrina re: responsibility of overhanging hedges.

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