Neighborly Law Ordinance is just one part of solution

Hood River News Editorial

July 27, 2005

Do you know your neighbor?

Can you work out what problems, if any, you may have?

Fortunately, for most people the answer is yes, but a new kind of help is on the way for those who cannot. It’s in the form of the Chronic Nuisance Property Ordinance, explained in Council arms chief with new nuisance ordinance.

The ordinance is one of the first acts by new City of Hood River police chief Bruce Ludwig, who joined the department in mid-June. Under the new ordinance, citizens may call the non-emergency dispatch number in the evenings about ongoing noise and conduct violations and during the day at the police station.

Under the ordinance, property can be declared a chronic nuisance after law enforcement officials have taken three actions within a 30-day period. Qualifying offenses include: felony drug activity; assault; out-of-control behavior; discharge of a firearm; underage drinking; and loud or disturbing noises.

City Council adopted the ordinance on July 13, and it is a welcome thing. Yet it also comes at a time when a mediation group is looking for examples of peaceful resolution of disputes. For many unwanted behaviors, a non-police solution may be in order. “Vision Awards: Piecing Together Solutions,” points to a concept worth exploring and understanding. It is open to nominees of all ages and all walks of life, the Vision Awards will celebrate people who help others avoid the pain of conflict. The award is intended to honor visionaries who facilitate a “shared vision of how to move peacefully through the pressures of inevitable change.” (Nomination forms are available at Waucoma Bookstore in Hood River.)

This is the first time Six Rivers Community Mediation Service, which serves the Gorge, has offered such an award. It could go to the neighbor who calmly settled a heated squabble over barking dogs, or “the person who brought a calm voice, open mind and steady leadership to solving an issue of community concern,” according to a Six Rivers press release.

But when mediation, direct or with a third party, is no longer feasible, or such options are exhausted, or when dangerous situations exist, that is where the Nuisance Ordinance comes in.

Neighborhood complaints should be made with discretion. For example, a Saturday afternoon barking dog problem deserves at least one neighbor-to-neighbor contact before any official is called upon. But shouting in the middle of the night or reckless driving are the types of situation where expert assistance should be called in — without hesitation.

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