By editorial board • 

Citizens should be free from offensive litter

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. We get that.

But when one man’s treasure begins to accumulate in unsightly heaps, creep into road right of way, encroach on neighboring property, produce noxious odors and breed roaming vermin, it’s time for government to step in.

These cases are tough enough for cities and counties, which can dispatch lawyers armed with torts and lawmen armed with badges, guns and warrants. They pose near impossible challenges for the ordinary people who suffer the most, due to nothing more than unfortunate proximity.

We can recall quite a litany over the years, starting with Harold Bloom of Dayton and proceeding through the Haight clan of Peavine Road and Earl Lawson of the Amity-Dayton Highway.

Bloom’s accumulation included 107 junk cars, a massive collection of tires and parts, and enough trash to fill a dozen 30-yard dropboxes. The Haights’ included more than 300 junk cars, by the county’s reckoning, or 100, by theirs. Lawson’s featured buckets, cans and drums; sinks, toilets and tubs; scrap rubber, plastic, wood and metal; cars, appliances and lawnmowers; and a stray mobile home carcass.

Now come new challenges of similar ilk. For the city of McMinnville, it’s the former Baker Street residence of Kimberly Nelson, who cut short a troubled life by her own hand earlier this fall. For Yamhill County, it’s the Krono Road residence of Esteban Diaz, who has refused repeated entreaties to clean up a 20-acre tract near Yamhill.

The city faces a corresponding type of challenge, where offensive behavior is the issue, rather than unsightly debris. The list includes Cabana Club issues from the late 1990s and early 2000s, Theta Chi fraternity challenges from the early 2000s, the alleged Thompson Park drug den from more recently, five zombie houses lingering in the wake of the crash of ‘08, and makeshift homeless camps coming and going on First Street.

That line of challenge also claims a knotty new entrant — a former Linfield fraternity house, site of a recent fire apparently touched off by intruders. Neither the college nor fraternity holds legal interest in the boarded-up Ford Street structure, complicating enforcement action.

We stipulate that no law-abiding citizen of either the city or county should have to endure accumulations of noxious detritus — rusting automobile hulks, heaps of old tires, piles of trash and so forth — or displays of obnoxious behavior — public intoxication, urination, aggression, sexuality and the like.

We expect our local units of government to help us consider our homes as our castles. That’s a rather fundamental extension of our God-given right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, established by our forebearers in the Declaration of Independence.

Yes, it’s nasty work. It requires dealing with difficult people in complicated circumstances. And it demands every “i” be dotted and “t” crossed to hold up in court.
But somebody must. And in this instance, we’re assigning the task to local units of government when we drop our property tax payments into the mail each November.



I live near a nuisance road....Lincoln Ave in Cove Orchard. Why doesn't the Health Dept get involved in these cases? At one property there are children playing in the mountains of trash. The property is littered with cars, garbage, junk and more. Most of the windows are gone in the home. Periodically they have a poor horse tied in the yard and chickens roam all over the place. Why doesn't the county do something?

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