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New ordinance amendment could allow police to quickly identify chronic nuisance properties

Medford Police may have a quicker way to identify chronic nuisance homes in the city. (KTVL/Mike Marut)

Medford, Ore. - As of Wednesday, April 19th, Medford Police need three arrests in 30 days at a single property to label it a chronic nuisance property. If city council approves the ordinance amendment during Thursday's regular session, police only need four arrests in 120 days or six arrests in a year.

"It makes me feel like the citizens are being heard," Randi Brock, a Medford resident, said.

Brock says she's been fighting nuisance properties for years.

"We have a rental next door that has had one horrible tenant after another," Brock said.

Brock's personal experience with nuisance properties gives her reason to look forward to the potential changes.

"There's times I can't let my kid play outside in the yard, which isn't okay," Brock said. "I worked hard for my home and for my yard. My son should be able to go play out in it."

Obvious safety concerns helped inspire the changes to the ordinance. It will allow law enforcement to identify chronic nuisance properties quicker and actually do something about them.

"It's going to change the time frames where we can [give notice to] homeowners and property owners and then take some enforcement action if there's no compliance or cooperation," Corporal Tom Venables with Medford Police's code enforcement team said.

If a property already has two arrests, law enforcement issues a notice the property is in danger of becoming a chronic nuisance. If a third arrest happens, law enforcement meets with the residents to find a solution. If a solution is not found within 10 days, police can issue fines. If the fines are not paid, law enforcement can evict the residents and board up the house.

The problem with the original ordinance is properties don't usually have three arrests within 30 days.

"Police will go to a residence and arrest a couple of people," Venables said. "That will be one or two qualifying events for the ordinance, and then it will go quiet for 30 or 40 days and it pops right back up."

Venables says these chronic nuisance properties happen across Medford - they're not specific to any streets or neighborhoods.

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