By Tom Henderson • Staff Writer • 

Someone up there is appraising your barn?

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forest for the trees

If you actually read the memo from Wharff to the commissioners it says that this service will detect and notify them of "changes" to a property. Thus, repairs performed without need for a permit will now be captured so the assessed value can be adjusted without you knowing it. It is very invasive. There is no privacy. This should be stopped dead in its tracks.


I think the property owner should be notified of the county's intent before any drone surveillance takes place. How can you tell if the drone is working for the county assessor or just some nosey guy snooping around your property? I know what I would do to discourage the snoopy guy....and it includes a 12 gauge....


It seems to me that any exterior renovation massive enough and obvious enough to be spotted in an aerial photo by a guy leafing through tens of thousands of them, and to jump out at him sufficiently to motivate him to hike the appraised value, justifies a revised value.

Slipping under the permit threshhold and still leaping out at a casual viewer would have to make it 1 in a million. I have better things to worry about. That one would be a long, long way down my list.

As for shooting down drones, that's a bad idea no matter who is operating them for what reason. That's a good way to end up doing time as a guest of the county.

Better to call 911 and let the pros sort it out.



The loss of privacy is what bothers me most about this. I object to any drone flying over my property. I'm left to wonder if someone might be casing my property. On the other hand, if I must (and I always do when required) take out a permit for building projects on my property others should be as well. Codes are necessary for safety and to protect life, but who likes them when they seem to be over-the-top and require that you spend more money than you have in the budget? According to Benjamin Franklin...“Nothing is certain except death and taxes”....and now we can add county building codes.


Unfortunately, this article is very misleading. There will be NO Yamhill County drone flights initiated by our office. Aerial imagery is captured from high altitude airplanes.

Derrick Wharff, Assessor and Tax Collector


I can see that this approach to gathering data could be seen as "less intrusive" and more efficient than direct on the ground surveys of properties. However, is this really a necessary and cost effective means to appraise the 0.01 of new construction that slips through the gaps. (In the article it states the 99.9 percent of the new construction is properly permitted).

Also, what is being done about the privacy concerns? Not only is it threatening to people have an unknown drone hovering over their property. But, how is the data going to be handled and stored? What measures are being taken to protect the privacy of people on their own property? What is being done to ensure the contractor does not misuse the data? This is exactly the type of activity that erodes our rights to privacy in the name of efficiency and cost savings. BEFORE the contract for the mapping is finalized, it seems prudent to have a chance for public input and discussion. Maybe the majority of taxpayers support this activity, maybe not. But, this seems invasive enough an activity to justify the time taken for hearing and discussions. Why wasn't the general public clearly informed of the planned work and given a chance to respond before the commission made a decision?


Sets up some very interesting legal questions. Will this be considered a form of trespassing? If so, I think they are going to have a lot of these shot down and thrown on a scrap heap in some rural guys backyard. So much for "saving a lot of time and money."

Mac newcomer

Pictometry doesn't use drones. They use high flying aircraft with very high resolution cameras and you don't even know they're doing it. Their technology uses oblique angle photos. Mr. Bagwell, this isn't someone leafing through photos. Once a photo is digitized it is analyzed with a computer and the changes are automatically reported. It can report a very, very small change (a matter of inches) in your building(s) and/or property. I am amazed that the administrator and commissioners just approved this like any other agenda item - or maybe I'm not surprised.


"Unfortunately, this article is very misleading. There will be NO Yamhill County drone flights initiated by our office. Aerial imagery is captured from high altitude airplanes."
Derrick Wharff, Assessor and Tax Collector

Thanks Mr Wharff, but I'm not sure that's very reassuring. Sounds kinda like "We won't use drones to snoop around your property, we'll do it from a lot higher up in the won't even know we're doing it."


I don't care whether it will be a drone or a high flying aircraft. These photos are crossing my privacy. Not only that we all are victims of internet frauds and advertising now the commissioners we have elected are spying on us. Must we always follow all technical "improvements" the industry is offering ? What's next ?


1) Yeah, it's my understanding aerial photography is done with fixed-wing piloted aircraft, not drones.
2) Surveillance (law enforcement, mapping, agriculture, assessors) everywhere is the new reality folks; it ain't going anywhere. And if you think this is bad, have you read the Patriot Act?
3) Shooting down drones is illegal, just like Steve said. And legally, property rights ABOVE your property end somewhere between 83 and 500 feet.


So if property rights end at 83 feet.... wouldn’t a trespassing drone be fair game...... (out of the city limits of course).


o.k. but a photo intrudes my property just above ground level. What will the law say about that ? Just a question to consider

Jeb Bladine

An editor, after viewing articles about other agencies using drones for aerial photography, reached the incorrect conclusion that drones would be involved here. A drone photograph was added to the published story, which did not actually mention drones. A correction will be published.


Nevertheless a photo of myself on my property or the property itself in my opinion needs my permission. Coming from a drone or an aircraft. Makes no difference to me. I surely would talk to our lawyer if I would find out they were photographing my property.

duck fan

Someone needs to be looking at the Supreme Court case Kyllo vs. United States, re: unlawful search by a government entity. A general flyover is one thing, but a computer driven aerial surveillance system that detects very small changes in our personal property is not something generally available to the public and is an invasion of privacy.


Predictable Yamhill county paranoia running wild here. Good grief! Google earth was launched in 2001. Anyone with internet access can look down on your property with relative high resolution. Unless you're building illegally, you shouldn't have anything to worry about.

Many have brought up "privacy issues" to the conversation.....Nowhere did Picrometry mention anything about gazing into the windows of anyones bedroom. Did they?

Many of the same folks opposed to this are often the same people always ranting about how inefficiently government is ran. This program actually makes sense.


Might that be two terabytes of hi-res photos? Two gigs is not a lot of room for hi-res imagery.


If this approach is using typical higher altitude aerial photography then the rules about how to use the photos in a legal manner are already quite clear and straightforward. I remember using aerial photos on an almost daily basis doing forest survey work in the 1980's and 1990's.

Perhaps, it would have been good to provide extra clarification, in the article, as to what type of aerial imagery was to be used. Now that the use of drones is almost ubiquitous, many of us will immediately connect aerial imagery with drones. I guess times have changed. Also, because there are so many ways our privacy is already being invaded with modern technology that we have no control over, some of us can be rather sensitive to potential invasions of our privacy by others.

Thank you for the clarification that drones are not mentioned in the article. And the point that this type of aerial photography is usually done be higher altitude aircraft.


well, I didn't build illegally. What a relief to learn that I don't have to worry about these photographs any more. This is the reason why nowadays so many people are giving away their privacy. What a flawed argument. Besides .. I can't control Google but I can control my local government which by the way mostly is doing a good job.


Duck Fan have you read Kyllo v. United States? That case has to do with law enforcement using thermal imagining (FLIR) to detect heat sources from INSIDE of a home and later found an illegal marijuana grow inside of the home. That is not the same as a plane flying high over your property and taking photos. How do you think law enforcement found out door marijuana grows on people's property when marijuana was still mostly illegal? They spotted them from flying over people's private property and saw the plants and took photos of them and the courts upheld those cases.


Our property has been registered as an anti drone zone.

If Yamhill County feels the need to conduct illegal surveillance on our property, they may find that their flying spy camera may not make it home.

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