By editorial board • 

City gets the kick it needed to start moving in the right direction

Sometimes there’s nothing like a swift kick in the appropriate rears to set the mule train of city government in motion.

McMinnville city officials must have known of serious problems in the neighborhood surrounding Thompson Park before a dozen neighbors showed up June 14 to demand action against alleged drug addicts squatting in an abandoned home. Police arrested suspects at the home earlier in the month, so problems with these “zombie houses” — and the sketchy people who invade them — should hardly shock anyone at city hall.

Faced with angry neighbors, city officials suddenly began crafting laws to enable them to follow Portland’s lead in seizing zombie houses and forcing out squatters. It seems to take a kid getting hit by a truck before a traffic light is installed at a dangerous intersection, and this fits the mold.

Zombie houses are not new. It is mystifying to see cities being so sluggish in dealing with them.

Portland officials just foreclosed on two houses. That makes a grand total of two houses in 50 years.

City Attorney David Koch told city councilors he should have a law drafted for their consideration in time for their July 12 meeting.

That’s quick service. If it takes so little time to develop a proposal, neighbors shouldn’t have to stomp their feet to get it done.

Nonetheless, city officials deserve brownie points for being responsive to citizen concerns. And that now being the case, citizens would be well advised to give their feet a rest.

Anything the council does will take time. Even with the best of intentions, the problems in the neighborhood will not vanish overnight — or even over several hundred nights, truth be told.

Laws take time to enforce. Due process must be observed, and everyone’s rights must be scrupulously honored.

It would help, of course, if banks like Wells Fargo, which holds title to the house causing many of the problems, would cooperate with city officials.

So far, Wells Fargo execs have been as friendly with city officials as gum disease, refusing to answer even the most basic questions from city hall. These folks need some serious PR help, unless being associated with reputed drug houses is part of a new bank marketing strategy.

With the exception of Wells Fargo, everyone finally seems to be moving the right direction. While we counsel neighbors to be patient, now that they have the wheels in motion, it’s easy to understand their frustration that it took so long.


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