Chapter 15.12


15.12.010    Definitions.

15.12.020    Applicability and administration.

15.12.030    Registration required.

15.12.040    Registration requirements.

15.12.050    Registration fees.

15.12.060    Property manager or agent.

15.12.070    Determination of vacancy.

15.12.080    Boarding of buildings.

15.12.090    Vacant property plan.

15.12.100    Failure to comply with vacant property plan.

15.12.110    Maintenance and security requirements.

15.12.120    Open property and securing fee.

15.12.130    Unpaid fees.

15.12.140    Abatement.

15.12.150    Penalties.

15.12.010 Definitions.

For the purpose of this chapter, certain terms, phrases, words and their derivatives shall be construed as specified in this section. Where terms are not defined in this section or in VMC 15.05.030, they shall have their ordinarily accepted meanings within the context with which they are used. Webster’s Third New International Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged, copyright 1986, shall be considered as providing ordinarily accepted meanings. Words used in the singular include the plural and the plural the singular. Words used in the masculine gender include the feminine and the feminine the masculine.

(1) “Public nuisance” includes nuisances defined in Chapters 8.05 and 15.10 VMC, or in this chapter.

(2) “Secured” or “securing” means effective measures have been taken or are in the process of being taken to prevent the unauthorized entry of vacant property. Such measures may be specified in this chapter or may be specified by the city administrator, or designee, according to policies and rules adopted to implement this chapter.

(3) “Vacant” means a building or property has been continuously unoccupied and unused for at least 90 days. Conditions indicative of a vacant building or property may include:

(a) Weeds, grass higher than 10 inches, dry brush, or dead vegetation.

(b) Trash, junk, debris, building material, any accumulation of newspapers, circulars, and fliers (except those required by law).

(c) Discarded items including but not limited to furniture, clothing, appliances, printed materials, signage, containers, equipment, construction materials, or any other items that give the appearance that the property is abandoned.

(d) Past due utility notices or disconnected utilities.

(e) Abandoned vehicles and machinery.

(f) Absence of furnishings or equipment related to commercial, industrial, or residential use.

(g) Abandoned or damaged signs and other advertising structures.

(h) Graffiti, tagging, or similar marring of a building’s exterior walls present for more than 48 hours.

(i) Statements by neighbors, passersby, delivery agents, and government employees that the property is vacant. (Ord. 547 § 1, 2018)

15.12.020 Applicability and administration.

(1) The provisions of this chapter apply to all buildings and properties located in the city and determined to be vacant. This chapter does not relieve an owner from compliance with all other city ordinances, codes, rules, or any state or federal laws.

(2) This chapter establishes a program for identification, registration, and regulation of property that is or becomes vacant on or after the effective date of this chapter; determines the responsibilities of owners of vacant property; and provides for administration and enforcement.

(3) The city administrator, or designee, is authorized to administer and enforce the provisions of this chapter. Further, the city administrator, or designee, may render interpretations of this chapter and adopt policies, procedures, and rules to carry out these provisions. (Ord. 547 § 1, 2018)

15.12.030 Registration required.

Property owners are required to register their vacant buildings or properties with the city when:

(1) The property owner knows, or from all of the facts and circumstances should know, that the building or property is vacant as defined in this chapter; or

(2) Thirty days from the date the city administrator, or designee, mails a written notice to register to the property owner using the last known mailing address from the Lane County assessor’s property records. (Ord. 547 § 1, 2018)

15.12.040 Registration requirements.

(1) Property owners will register with the city and provide all of following information:

(a) The address and legal description of the property.

(b) The current name, physical address, mailing address, email address, and telephone number for all owner(s). Corporations or corporate entities shall submit the same information for their registered agent.

(c) The case name and number of any litigation pending concerning or affecting the building or property, including bankruptcy cases.

(d) The contact information for any currently acting, local manager within 50 miles of the vacant property or building who is authorized to accept personal service on behalf of the property owner(s).

(e) Proof of liability insurance for the property.

(f) A completed vacant property plan, as provided in this chapter.

(g) A floor plan of the building(s) to be used by first responders in the event of a fire or other catastrophic event.

(2)     Proof that “No Trespass” placards have been posted on the property. Vacant property or building owners must provide written notice to the city no later than 30 days after a change in ownership of the property and provide a copy of the instrument effecting the change along with contact information for either the new owner or a property manager.

(3) Owners of vacant property must renew registrations by January 31st of each year for the remainder of the time the building remains vacant and pay the required annual fee as determined by resolution.

(4) Owners of vacant property must file an amended registration within 30 days of any change in the information contained in the annual registration.

(5) Registration does not exonerate the owner from compliance with all applicable codes and ordinances, nor does it preclude any of the actions the city is authorized to take pursuant to this chapter or elsewhere in the municipal code.

(6) Owners of vacant property are required to provide the city with proof of liability insurance covering the vacant property at the time of registration and with any subsequent registrations filed as provided above. In all cases, the owner is responsible for continuously maintaining appropriate insurance for vacant properties. (Ord. 547 § 1, 2018)

15.12.050 Registration fees.

The fee for registering and re-registering a vacant property shall be set, from time to time, by resolution of the city council. The amount of the fee charges shall not exceed the reasonable estimated cost of administering the provisions of this chapter. (Ord. 547 § 1, 2018)

15.12.060 Property manager or agent.

Vacant building or property owners must designate a local manager located within 50 miles for said buildings and properties and include current contact information for the designated manager. Property managers or agents will accept legal service on behalf of the building or property owner; however, the vacant property owner remains personally liable for code violations. This information will be collected on property registrations and re-registrations. (Ord. 547 § 1, 2018)

15.12.070 Determination of vacancy.

(1) Within 180 days after the effective date of this chapter, the city administrator or their designee shall evaluate all buildings in the city they believe to be unoccupied and make a determination for each as to whether or not the building is a vacant building. The city administrator or their designee may determine that a vacant building is not to be regulated under this chapter for a stated period if, upon consideration of reliable evidence, they determine that regulation of the building under this chapter would not serve the public health, welfare, and safety and make written findings in support of the decision.

(2) When the city administrator or their designee determines a building to be vacant, they shall within seven days of making the determination send notice as provided in VMC 15.12.030. Said notice of determination shall be sent certified mail, return receipt requested. Failure of delivery shall not excuse a person from complying with this chapter. The city administrator or their designee shall maintain a record of such mailing for each notice of determination sent. The notice of determination will also be posted on the property.

(3) The notice of determination shall contain a statement of the obligations of the owner of a building determined to be a vacant building, and a copy of the registration form the owner is required to file pursuant to VMC 15.12.040. (Ord. 547 § 1, 2018)

15.12.080 Boarding of buildings.

It is the policy of the city that boarding is a temporary solution to prevent unauthorized entry into a vacant building and that boarded buildings are a public nuisance. A vacant building may not remain boarded longer than three months. (Ord. 547 § 1, 2018)

15.12.090 Vacant property plan.

If a property is not in compliance with this chapter, owners shall submit an approved vacant property plan within 30 days of filing the registration form. The city administrator or their designee may prescribe a form for the plan.

(1) The plan shall contain the following at a minimum:

(a) A plan of action to uphold VMC 15.12.110, Maintenance and security requirements.

(b) A plan of action to repair any doors, windows, or other openings which are boarded up or otherwise secured/covered by any means other than conventional methods used in the design of the building and/or permitted for new construction, as noted in Chapter 15.05 VMC. Boarding shall be accomplished with materials and methods described by the city administrator or their designee. The owner shall maintain the building in an enclosed and secure state until the building is reoccupied or made available for immediate occupancy. If the owner demonstrates that securing of the building will provide adequate protection to the public, the city administrator or their designee may waive the requirement of an enclosure.

(c) For buildings or property which are determined to be public nuisances, as defined in Chapter 15.10 VMC, the vacant property plan shall contain a plan of action to remedy such public nuisances.

(d) A time schedule identifying a date of commencement for repairs and date of completion of repair for each improperly secured opening and nuisance identified.

(e) If and when the owner proposes to demolish a vacant building or structure, then the owner shall submit a plan and time schedule for such demolition.

(f) A plan of action to maintain the building or property in conformance with this chapter.

(2) No plan which fails to provide for compliance with this chapter or which will not achieve compliance will be approved.

(3) Exterior lighting shall be maintained according to standards established by the city.

(4) All ground floor windows and all display windows in unoccupied or vacant buildings shall be kept well-maintained and functional, with all business signs removed. (Ord. 547 § 1, 2018)

15.12.100 Failure to comply with vacant property plan.

If a vacant property plan is deemed necessary by the city administrator or their designee, failure to submit a plan within 30 days of filing the registration shall constitute a violation of this chapter subject to penalties.

The city administrator or their designee will respond with either approval of the submitted plan or request revisions to address plan deficiencies. A revised plan must be submitted within 30 days of staff response. Failure to comply with the approved plan shall constitute a violation of this chapter subject to penalties. (Ord. 547 § 1, 2018)

15.12.110 Maintenance and security requirements.

The owner, or owner’s designee, of a vacant building or property will comply with all building requirements pursuant to Chapter 15.05 VMC. In addition, the city council will adopt by resolution maintenance and security requirements for registered vacant buildings and properties. The city administrator, or designee, will be responsible for maintaining the requirements in a manner that is accessible to the public and for updating the requirements as needed from time to time. The city administrator, or designee, will update the city council in a public meeting when changes to the requirements are made but no additional resolution will be required. (Ord. 547 § 1, 2018)

15.12.120 Open property and securing fee.

The city may request authorization from the property owner to enter vacant buildings or properties that are left open and accessible. If the property owner does not authorize the city to enter the property or buildings and does not secure the property or buildings within a reasonable time, then the city would seek an administrative warrant and post notice to enter the property for the sole purpose of securing the property.

The property owner will be responsible for paying any fees and costs incurred by the city in securing the property, including legal fees. Securing the property will be considered a benefit to the property and the city may record a lien against the property for the fees and costs incurred by the city in securing the property or building. (Ord. 547 § 1, 2018)

15.12.130 Unpaid fees.

All fees hereunder that remain unpaid after 30 days’ written notice to the owner or management company shall be assessed against the property as a lien, recorded in the Lane County recorder’s office and added to the city’s lien docket. (Ord. 547 § 1, 2018)

15.12.140 Abatement.

Public nuisances as defined in Chapters 8.05 and 15.10 VMC, and in this chapter, may be abated by any of the procedures set forth in VMC 8.05.140 to 8.05.190. (Ord. 547 § 1, 2018)

15.12.150 Penalties.

A person who owns vacant buildings or property and who fails to meet the obligations outlined in this chapter may be fined per violation. Each subsequent violation will be considered a separate offense.

If the city administrator or their designee determines a violation of this chapter exists, they may issue an administrative citation for each day a violation exists, containing fines up to $250.00 per day, per violation. (Ord. 547 § 1, 2018)