By Tom Henderson • Staff Writer • 

Commissioner: Encampment straining YCAP operations

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Comments

Trafik

Scott Thorkildson of Fastenal seems to think this ragtag group is possessed of some significant sense of entitlement. If you call living outside — or in a dilapidated motorhome — with no basic amenities, seeking a meal and a place to get an uninterrupted night’s sleep “entitled,” then I suppose he’s right. And, like Thorkildson appears to do, we could consider the Dustin Court group a bunch of luxury-seekers who woke up one day and chose to be homeless because it was such a posh and easy lifestyle. This simplistic outlook certainly reduces our homeless problem to one with clear heroes and villains and very easy solutions. No wonder it’s such a popular perspective among short-sighted folks.

I understand we’ve got not-inconsequential problems on Dustin Court. I also understand some of the Dustin Courtiers are contrary and uncooperative sorts. Further, I know an up-and-coming wine destination hardly needs a sprawling permanent homeless squat as a centerpiece in its industrial park. (Side note: Mac Water & Light and Oregon Lithoprint are really the only two attractive, non-pole-barn, permanent-looking edifices on all of Riverside Drive. Most of the rest of the district is comprised of cheapest-option, pole-barn-style structures with little or no landscaping and a glaring lack of district-wide design standards minima. At best, it’s a jumble of cheap tin buildings and weed-covered lots. Really, if you’re gonna have a temporary homeless squat, that ugly industrial part of town is probably the place to have it, at the moment.)

I agree Dustin Court is a problem in need of a solution. But reducing the issue into simplified stereotypes is counterproductive. Yes, I’m sure a few Dustin Courtiers are milking the system, rightfully earning Thorkildson’s scorn. But enough aren’t, I suspect, to make a measure of compassion and thoughtful planning preferable to anger-prompted immediate action. Whatever level of entitlement exists on Dustin Court, in my opinion it's too low for genuine outrage.

CubFan

Trafik,
"Side note: Mac Water & Light and Oregon Lithoprint are really the only two attractive, non-pole-barn, permanent-looking edifices on all of Riverside Drive. Most of the rest of the district is comprised of cheapest-option, pole-barn-style structures with little or no landscaping and a glaring lack of district-wide design standards minima. At best, it’s a jumble of cheap tin buildings and weed-covered lots."

I'll take issue with that statement. Driving out Riverside Avenue- Nice Electric, the home adjacent to the storage units. World Class Technology/Ortho Country and Ferrum Technology do not fit what you describe. Same goes for the industrial area, most of the buildings and grounds are well-kept.

Jim

CubFan I agree with you. An industrial park is what it is and the one in Mcminnville is very well kept over all. I don’t blame Scott for being upset as he has to drive by that mess everyday. Trafik move them to your neighborhood and see how you like it.

ja74

@Trafik I just had a very expensive, fully landscaped, beautiful building built last year on Miller Street. I came to work this morning and there is a gypsie vehicle parked in front of my neighbors (also new) building. We know the city counsel will not do anything for us to get them moved, so more and more will come here. When I have customers visit from out of town, the first thing they say is "what is with the all the trash down the street?" They know there is no penalty for what they are doing to our once prized "Best downtown in America" so they will keep coming until it is too late and we are over run with trash, drugs, and old motor homes at every turn out. When one does move, they have to bring in a city crew to wash down all the human waste and trash left behind.

Treehouse

Folks, it's a lot more complicated than any amount of complaining or blaming will ever help fix. Offloading responsibility to volunteer elected officials won't make much difference either until some kind of consensus is reached among the citizens. And we are nowhere close to that right now.

Doubt it? Consider just this one example of a complication: right now as I type these words there are probably a thousand RVs parked in driveways, side yards, and back yards throughout the city of McMinnville that are being used as impromptu and entirely un-permitted mother-in-law rentals, spare rooms, or even short term rentals. Maybe it's a family member or close friend. Maybe someone is temporarily down on their luck. Maybe the homeowner is living in their RV temporarily while the home is under major reconstruction. So what, you say? Their private property. Their business. Right?

Well, aside from the rather obvious issue of essentially asking your city planning department to "look the other way", and the equally obvious issue that most of these other RV residents are just one heated argument away from finding themselves on Dustin Court, aren't we overlooking the neighborhoods and neighbors living with these off-street RV residents? As well as all the possible externalities these prohibited uses give rise to?

Whatever we decide to do has to avoid just moving people/complaints/issues around randomly in reaction to short term pressure. Real solutions will come from information and understanding the true nature and scope of whatever the problems are. And as this article amply demonstrates, we don't have that right now. Instead what we have are lots of uncertainties, the fears they give rise to, and the impatience for resolution triggered by those fears. Let's consider slowing down to understand the problem better before rushing to demand solutions we probably can't rely on.

Jim

Treehouse first of all I would put a large amount of money on there being 1,000 RV’s with people staying in them illegally. The number is probably way closer to 150. I don’t care what a Judge in Boise Idaho ruled about people camping on the street up there this is McMinnville Oregon and we have our rules in place. Let’s enforce them.
The City of MvMinnville has kept the derelict’s in check on Third Street so why not city wide?Right now the taxpayers are footing the bill to clean up after these people and that’s not right. Instead they are increasing fees on building and landscaping and various other fees in the city. They want signs changed because they don’t look good. If they want to penalize the working people that pay taxes then they have to look to what those people want and that’s clean the town up. The system is broken and needs to be fixed.

Jim

Treehouse first of all I would put a large amount of money on there being 1,000 RV’s with people staying in them illegally. The number is probably way closer to 150. I don’t care what a Judge in Boise Idaho ruled about people camping on the street up there this is McMinnville Oregon and we have our rules in place. Let’s enforce them.
The City of MvMinnville has kept the derelict’s in check on Third Street so why not city wide?Right now the taxpayers are footing the bill to clean up after these people and that’s not right. Instead they are increasing fees on building and landscaping and various other fees in the city. They want signs changed because they don’t look good. If they want to penalize the working people that pay taxes then they have to look to what those people want and that’s clean the town up. The system is broken and needs to be fixed.

Treehouse

So Jim, what's your proposal for those 150 illegal RV dwelling units when placed alongside the 15 on Dustin Court?
In other words, what should be the city's legal distinction for focusing exclusively on only the RVs (and any attendant externalities or nuissances) on one particular street at one particular point in time?

Jim

Treehouse the city already has rules for the rest of RV’s parked around town elsewhere. Enforcement is the key to the situation. I believe if they are in a side yard or off the street they can have their RV on their property. If they are on the street they have 48 hrs to move them. I think they have to have some kind of permit if somebody comes to stay for a week
or longer in a RV. Don’t quote me on the exact rules. Like I said it’s about enforcement once the rules are in place. All that said there is no reason for the mess that is on Dustin Ct and Marsh Lane going on three years now. My opinion.

Treehouse

Jim, I can see that perhaps like a lot of us, not all the city's land use and other municipal codes are always perfectly clear. While it is certainly true that the law allows us to park our RVs at our homes,
I'm afraid it forbids living in them, or allowing anyone else to do so. Likewise a detached garage or converted shed, etc.

The point being that you are certainly 100% right, it is about enforcement. But like many communities its size, our city has perhaps for quite some time "looked the other way" on a diverse range of related residential land use practices. If the nature of those land use practices is unclear, the numbers and intensity are unclear, the precise laws governing them are unclear, and whatever nuissance impacts arise from them are unclear, then perhaps our first, best move is to seek more clarity. Let's give that some thought at least before we demand implementation of what might be very poor and ultimately costly solutions.

Trafik

CubFan, Jim and ja74:

Homelessfolk already populate my neighborhood and have done so far longer than they have at Dustin Court. I live adjacent to a major feeding ministry — numerous “campers” populate the wooded areas surrounding my house. While the situation is not ideal, I try to be more compassionate than many hard-line McMinnvillians. The campers’ presence has affected my household in significant ways and, yes, I’d prefer if I didn’t have to deal with their bad behaviors.

This problem is hardly unique to McMinnville — it’s happening in cities all over the region and beyond. Local officials have been looking at solutions implemented by other municipalities with an eye to repeating what works. I believe we need to continue this course. Immediate, anger-motivated action might clear out a particular encampment but will do nothing to solve the larger problem — indeed, I’d argue such blundering would worsen matters.

As to Riverside Drive, standards are relative. I’m betting many of the structures you defend are sheet metal buildings, typically cheapest-option and tacky-looking, in my opinion. While their owners may have shelled out (relative) piles of cash for their construction, they’re still sheet metal, pole-barn-style structures, a type other jurisdictions prohibit. In my opinion, sheet metal structures tend to look shabby far sooner than more permanent buildings. Couple that with the local enthusiasm for (relatively) cheap backlit signs, throw in mildew-streaked awnings, add weed-choked empty lots and, well, you get the drift. Personally, I prefer the dignified slab-concrete permanence of a well-landscaped structure like Oregon Lithoprint. Throughout the district, there are a handful of equally attractive, well-executed structures but most are the pole-barn-style I describe. Just stating my opinion — I’m sure many consider the industrial district quite appealing.

Bill B

For most of us there is no free lunch, but that is the case with those on Dustin Ct. and Marsh Lane or anyone else taking advantage of the free food found around town. Nothing expected in return. This problem will only grow as more people learn how cheaply they can get by here. For whatever its worth, many of those I see as I drive by appear fit enough to work.
I see that a fence is now being installed on the north side of Riverside between Alpha Drive and YCAP. It will be interesting to see what happens next.

ja74

@Trafik My new building is stick framed, not a pole barn, not a steel building. Even if it was, I still do not want old cars, motor homes, and trash here. When the building was under construction they stole anything that was small enough to carry, and dumped buckets of human waste in the construction out houses. Not in the hole, but just threw it in there.

Oregon1

Don't like the appearance of the RVs and run down vehicles? How about you step up and build some tiny houses for these people?

Bill B

Oregon 1; You're kidding, right?

Lulu

This is much like the landfill problem, or Evergreen, or Waste Management, lurching along for years with no foreseeable conclusion; except in this case, an ever-expanding population demanding rights but denying all responsibilities.
I'm just so damn weary of going nowhere. Of considering the bright side. Of trying to make the best of an outrageous situation. Of plastering a smile on my face. Of searching for an acceptable medium where none exists. Of pretending this is the best of all possible worlds.


Mudstump

I came across an article about veterans organizations in Kansas City, MO and how they helped find a solution for homeless vets.

https://12tomatoes.com/vet-community-kc/?fbclid=IwAR0KLaHxTuzYkAeM6ZC7aIb5uNXFYDT1zxg_1Cjp90jX8Siagfx4t83zk6k

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