Tuesday, October 18, 2005

A bike lawyer offers help, Caffeine Jones replies...

Caffeine Jones here, Dingo's girl. You're so sweet to offer help. I
don't know what you know about the city regulations, but here's the
Many people use our bike shop, visit our yard, etc. Needless to say,
they do not all clean up after themselves. Also, Many people donate
scrap wood; dead bikes; wilting ( but still partly good) produce; large,
stange contraptions that no one else wants... what have you. For Dingo
& myself, it is very hard, on a personal level, to kick people out, turn
down donations, & harass our housemates & bike mechanic friends to clean
up. So things get messy. And when we clean up, it stays clean for about
ten minutes.
So this week, an inspector came down Alberta, handing out notices.
Obviously, we were cited. This is not the first time we've been
contacted by them, but it IS the first time our landlord got a notice, &
not us. This means we have no list of specific violations that need to
be remedied, so we are cleaning & hauling madly, & cancelling Last Thurs
(they are re-inspecting the next day), but we are worried that, without
a specific list, they will fine us anyway.
A contractor friend of ours was here today, & he told Dingo he'd had a
conversation with a guy employed by the city who was feeling badly about
his job. The guy said that, over here on Alberta, the city is being very
vague in their notices, so that people won't know what they are supposed
to fix. Then they are charging their exorbitant rates. Apparently, the
city can put a lein on the property, and they are using it as a scare
tactic. He said it was like working for gangsters.
Some developer types used the city to get us evicted from our old house,
so we are gunshy. (Those guys were actually dumping trash in our yard, &
then calling the city. That was an extreme situation.) The landlord,
tired of ongoing problems, decided to "remodel," & served us w/a
no-fault eviction. He said, "It's nothing personal. I just want my house
Dingo & I have been dealing with this type of thing for years. We want
to offer free access to a bike shop, be a clearing house for gleaned
food, let all the neighbor kids come over & play, live in a community
house, save good bike parts from the scrap metal yard...in short, we
have our goals & ideals. We also don't want to be grumpy, nag people,
tell them not to come around, stop the parties...we don't like being the
fun police. We are currently waiting for houses to become more
affordable, and our credit score to get higher, so we can buy a place,
and spare landlords this anxiety. In the meantime, we don't want to
close the shop, stop food donations, or anything else.
If you know anthing we can do to procect ourselves, or how to get the
city to be REALLY SPECIFIC about what they want, it would be much help.

Mark J. Ginsberg said...

I have a few thoughts:
1. Be good tenants, call and/or write your landlord and tell them you didn't get a copy of the notice, but can they please send you a copy or let you know what is says so you can do what city wants. Also ask who signed it b/c you will need to follow up. this shows Landlord you aren't jerks.
2. Be good citizens (you already are) and follow up with city, ask them specficially what needs to be done, write to them (save a copy), send cc copies to people up the city food chain. in your letter point out that you never got a copy, so while you are trying to comply, it is hard to do, if you haven't seen the violation notice.
3. if you really feel this is a problem done for evil reasons, then figure out what bureau is sending the notices and the write an email or letter to the city commissioner in charge of that bureau. tell them about the practice and then ask them to follow up and for help.
there may be some things which may be in violation, what you want is them to tell you specifically what is in violation so you can fix it.
an ugly yard is not a violation
some of your other stuff might be.
hope this helps a little.
let me know how it progresses.


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jon said...

(stupid robot spam comments! grr...)

anyway, thanks to modern technology[tm], and the fact a nuisance is "public record", you can find out online via portlandmaps.com:

voila... beaurocracy!

basically, it seems like it was initiated by a complaint (snobby loser[s]!), and is mostly about bikes, parts, and "junk":

"50-60 bikes in various stages of repair, bike parts, and other junk on property. Can be seen from row"

fwiw, looks like its about the same as the one issued in july 2004, which seemed nicely resolved. that was a complaint and about trash/debris, bikes, etc.

thoughts: bike parts, junk, works need to be stored (duh); but what abou the stages, etc? i wonder if there is some way to get a permitted for "temporary" performance space/stage, like one would for a party (uncle joes 80th birthday & family reunion). just thinkin out loud. also a possibility (no seriously!) -- get permitted to have art in the yard (push the "alberta arts district" [HA!] angle). then claim the stage and stuff are part of the art. remember how portland is drooling for the "creative class"? yeah yeah, thats the ticket.

liz said...

Hi there, everyone!

I just thought that I should let everyone know about a story about another Alberta St. citizen.: A developer had contacted a woman who lives off of Alberta about buying her house. The problem was that her house was not for sale and she didn't want to sell it. The developer was quite obnoxious in his inquiries. A little bit later, she was contacted by the city saying that they had received a complaint that here bushes in her front yard were overgrown. They were most definetely NOT at all overgrown and she keeps her yard in very nice condition. She called the city back to try to deal with them and someone told her that this was a common tactic used on Alberta to get people so fed up with dealing with complaints and the city that they just give up and sell their house.

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