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Development Services

From Concept to Construction

Phone: 503-823-7300

TTY : 503-823-6868

1900 SW 4th Ave, Portland, OR 97201

Enforcement / Complaint Operational Changes and Priorities

City of Portland, Bureau of Development Services

Service Level Update Document:

Neighborhood Inspections/Compliance Services Section
Enforcement / Complaint Operational Changes and Priorities

February 17, 2012. The Neighborhood Inspections & Compliance Services Section operates 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 a sharp reduction in inspection staff in 2009, it became necessary to prioritize the various types of complaint investigation and enforcement cases that will be performed. This allows us to focus existing resources on the most critical areas of compliance work relative to fire, life safety, health, sanitation, environmental and neighborhood livability. As more inspection resources are added, previous service levels will be restored.

CONTINUING POLICY AND PROCEDURAL CHANGES

The following policy and procedure changes remain in effect:

  • Increased response time to investigate assigned cases and reduced re inspections and case management for active cases.
  • Reduction of Nuisance Abatements, except for the most severe Fire/Life/Safety and Health/Sanitation cases.
  • Reduction of violation cases referred to the Code Hearings Officer for additional enforcement remedies to gain compliance.
  • Suspension of the Chapter 13/Systematic Inspection Program on older 3 or more story apartment buildings.
  • Suspension of the Disabled Vehicle Enforcement Program.

ENFORCEMENT / COMPLAINT PRIORITIES

It is necessary to prioritize various enforcement/complaint types in order to effectively process the most critical cases with reduced resources. The Neighborhood Inspections & Compliance Services Section has developed a 3 category system to assign enforcement resources. Priority 1 is the most urgent cases and Neighborhood Inspections& Compliance Services will continue to respond to these situations. Priority 2 is less urgent and Neighborhood Inspections & Compliance Services will attempt to respond as resources allow. Priority 3 is a low priority and no enforcement/compliance action will be taken at this time.

The priority factors include (in ranked order):

Type of Property

1st – Rental Properties

2nd – Vacant Properties

3rd – Owner Occupied Properties

Type of Issue or Concern

1st – Fire / Life / Safety concerns

2nd – Health concerns

3rd – Environmental concerns

4th – Impact to the community

Based on the priority factors listed above, enforcement resources will be assigned to the different enforcement case types performed by the Neighborhood Inspections & Compliance Services Section. The priority list below contains examples for the various enforcement case types and is not an exhaustive list of all enforcement situations or priorities. The Neighborhood Inspections & Compliance Services Section will monitor workload based on the priority list below and adjust priorities as needed. As additional resources become available, the Neighborhood Inspections & Compliance Services Section should be able to respond to more complaints, including priority 3 cases.

 

Priority 1 - Imminent Health and Safety Hazards, Serious Code Violations, and Environmental Protection


Construction Code

  • Dangerous structures
  • Significant work without permit (such as additions or electrical work) on occupied structures

Housing - Full Service level restored July 1, 2011 – Investigating all Housing & Non-Residential Structure exterior maintenance requirements

  • Adult Care Home Inspections
  • Illegal occupancies (attics, basements, garages, accessory buildings)
  • Owner occupied with significant exterior Fire/Life/Safety and/or Health/Sanitation issues
  • Rental properties with Fire/Life/Safety and/or Health Sanitation and/or significant maintenance issues
  • Non-residential occupied buildings with significant exterior Fire/Life/Safety and/or Health/Sanitation issues
  • Drug labs
  • No garbage service
  • Healthy Home Referral (e.g. mold, lead, pests, sanitation)
  • Derelict buildings
  • Vacant buildings with significant exterior Fire/Life/Safety and/or Health/Sanitation issues
  • Vacant buildings with less serious/significant property maintenance issues including roofs, boarded windows, porch deterioration, peeling paint, missing siding, missing gutters, drainage issues
  • Non-residential exterior building maintenance, i.e. peeling paint, missing siding, missing gutters/downspouts
  • Owner occupied properties

Noise

  • Noise that disturbs at least three or more separate households
  • Noise disturbances past 10 PM and earlier than 7 AM

Nuisance

  • Child traps
  • Holes
  • Trees that are an imminent hazard as determined by Urban Forestry
  • Other endangering conditions, such as beehives, hornet nests
  • CROW – Containers in the Right-of-Way
  • Garbage, offal, trash, dead animals, human waste
  • Rat harborages as determined by Vector Control
  • Sewer/Rain drain breaks with rat holes and/or leaking sewage
  • Failed on site sewage disposal systems, i.e. cesspools, septic tanks
  • Illegal dumps
  • Stagnant Water

Signs

  • Sign that are imminent hazards or immediate life/safety issues (such as falling hazards, traffic hazards, structural failures, and exposed electrical wires)
  • Signs exceeding the maximum allowed size in the Central City core area and on signs adjacent to freeways and bridges.

Site Complaints

  • Grading & fill activities with possible safety hazard, environmental destruction, or erosion control issues

Zoning

  • Environmental code violations / tree cutting
  • Commercial code violations impacting residential areas
  • Chronic zoning code violations (verified violations for previous and current activity)


Priority 2 - Code Violations and/or Conditions Adversely Impacting Quality of Life

Construction Code

  • Work without permit (structural, mechanical, plumbing) such as remodeling in progress or newly constructed accessory structures with utilities

Noise

  • Commercial code violations impacting residential areas
  • Construction noise violations on Sundays and evenings up to 10 PM with submitted citizen complaint logs
  • Persistent noise issues that have been recorded with complaint logs and citizen noise readings between 7 AM and 10 PM
  • Noise complaints that receive second follow up call for service with effort from complainant to demonstrate a violation
  • Events without a Noise Variance

Nuisance

  • Vacant, unsecured structures
  • Overgrowth over structures and adjacent rights off way
  • Sewer/Rain drain breaks without rat holes and/or leaking sewage

Zoning

  • Illegal uses and Home Occupation violations
  • Over height fences or walls that block visibility
  • Commercial violations
  • Violations for newly constructed structures (fences, garages, sheds, decks, patio covers, etc).


Priority 3 – Less Significant Neighborhood Impact and/or No Code Compliance Action taken

Construction Code

  • Existing non habitable accessory structures without utilities such as sheds & covered patios
  • Fences less than 8 feet tall
  • Retaining walls not abutting the public right-of-way unless determined to be dangerous (based on factors such as wall height, potential property damage, evidence of existing failure).

Noise

  • Residential stereos
  • Leaf blowers if operated within the allowed hours
  • Sporadic noise issues that are not predictable (street musicians, ice cream trucks , and other noise in the right-of-way, etc)
  • Ongoing car related issues at residence (car exhaust, car stereo, car alarm, etc)

Nuisance / Disabled Vehicles

  • Tall Grass & Weeds (unless submitted through Complaint Pilot Program)
  • Blackberry vines & overgrowth
  • Disabled vehicles
  • Storage of non-trash items
  • Dead trees, bushes
  • Debris

Signs

  • Sign complaints that are not imminent hazards or immediate life/safety issues (such as falling hazards, structural failures, and exposed electrical wires

Site Complaints

  • Grading & fill activities with no safety hazard, environmental destruction, or erosion control issues

Zoning

  • Passenger vehicles and recreational vehicles, including boats, trailers, and motor homes
  • Violations for existing structures not newly constructed
  • Over height fences
  • Temporary activities (garage sales, temporary parking, temporary sales, vending cart operations, etc)

If you have questions, you may contact Enforcement Program Manager Mike Liefeld at (503) 823-7332.

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