By DAVE LEDOUX
Pride. Spirit. Volunteerism.
These words used to be on a fountain at Chemawa and River Rd. Were they repurposed outside City Hall to complete the city’s perceived response to many citizen issues, “…..and the horse you rode in on?”
Perception is reality. I walk our neighborhoods six to 12 miles daily. I wouldn’t have noticed these things had I stayed in my car.
Keizer ordinances govern street trees, traffic vision clearances, dwellings and parking. In football, the goal line is a vertical plane extending into infinity. Break it with any part of the ball and you’ve scored. Our sidewalks, bike paths and bike lanes are bounded similarly. I perceive that if any portion of a vehicle breaks these planes, then it is in violation. Additionally, Keizer has minimum vegetation clearance heights of 8 feet above sidewalks and 13 feet above road surfaces. I am six feet tall. If I have to duck, the limbs are below 8 feet; if I can touch them, the limbs are below 13 feet and if I have to go around, the walkway is blocked.
Vision clearance issues occur at intersections. No vegetation taller than 30 inches allowed within a triangle described by 30-foot long sides along each curb line.
Apartments and mobile home parks have specific occupancy loads with prescribed on-site parking for residents and guests. Permanent off-site overflow parking indicates exceeded occupancies.
Oregon’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) prohibits motor trucks from using many residential streets. Signs on Verda Lane say “No Thru Trucks.” My perception is that big-rig tractors have broken the law before parking on residential streets or driveways blocking the sidewalks.
Vehicles parked on public streets have a 72 hour limit. Jockeying solely to restart the 72-hour clock is proscribed. Trailers of any description are limited to 48 hours unless attached to a motive vehicle.
As per Keizer ordinances, any vehicle with expired tags, parked on the street, is a matter for the police. Oregon vehicles are required to display front and rear plates. Vehicles with expired tags and/or incapable of being driven, parked on private property and visible to the public, are classified as derelict. These fall under the purview of code enforcement at and are subject to abatement by towing.
Dwelling maintenance standards exist. Dwellings are required to be safe, sound and habitable. A proscription exists for yards with grass or weeds taller than 18 inches high. Blackberries running amok are a no-no. Foreclosed properties go virtually ignored.
Traffic signs work when clearly visible. Has anyone noticed, on Verda Lane, approaching Salem Parkway, that the ‘traffic signal’ sign is obscured by limbs? Even if visible, it is unreadable due to green mossy schmutz.
The bike path along the Parkway is in the City of Salem. That was news to me when I inquired in January as to why nothing happened with a November graffiti report and I perceived something about a horse was mentioned. What happened to interagency cooperation?
Keizer’s system of code enforcement is “complaint driven.” No complaint, no action. The need to file a complaint likely precludes people from doing so, since there is no anonymity allowed except with a straw-complainant. The “complaint” seems too draconian when, in most instances, all that is needed is a word to the wise from an official. Code enforcement only has part-time staffing so resolution can take 60-120 days.
How do we improve the system? Find the money for full-time staff? A vigorous information campaign? Bi-annual blurbs in the Keizer Quarterly aren’t effective. A bi-monthly insert in the water bill? Could we enlist spirited volunteers? Could the city authorize and indemnify citizens to trim offending vegetation that can be reached from the public right-of-way? Without the means for effective enforcement of these ordinances, would we not be better served if they were stricken from the books?
Let us put pride, spirit and volunteerism to work to keep our neighborhoods livable so we can get on our horses and ride off into the sunset without worrying about losing an eye.
Dave LeDoux lives in Keizer.