A lien has been filed on each of the three Flavel properties in town, the latest step by the Astoria City Council to bring the legendary family’s premises into compliance.
The properties include the abandoned mansion on 15th Street and the two commercial properties downtown that have been the subject of numerous code enforcement actions since the city adopted the derelict building ordinance more than a year ago.
“Letters have been sent to Ms. (Mary Louise) Flavel concerning enforcement of the nuisances and payment of vacant building fees to no avail,” a staff memo to the City Council read. It later notes, “If the lien is not paid, the city may eventually foreclose on the property as provided by Oregon law.”
The home’s lien totals more than $10,000. The two commercial property liens are for $6,600 each.
But Councilwoman Arline LaMear asked the question that seemed to have been on everyone’s mind: “It seems to me that a lot of liens have been placed on these properties. What good has that done and what do these new liens mean?”
Community Development Director and Assistant City Manager Brett Estes said it was all part of the process.
“It’s a case where we are going through the process that was (provided) for us by the derelict building ordinance,” Estes said. “We do have some other options for the house, because it’s a residential property, and we have some code revisions that would maybe allow for some other routes to go forward. The downtown properties … do not afford us to use what’s called a receivership program but in working with City Attorney (Blair) Henningsgaard, we’re looking at other methods that we could use to foreclose on those liens in the future and at least try to take some action.
“But we have to report the liens before we can take this next step.”
But LaMear commented that the struggle with the Flavel properties has been going on “forever and ever and ever.”
“It’s pretty frustrating,” she said, before trailing off, “I know everything takes a long time, but this seems kind of…”
The city had attempted to locate Mary Louise Flavel, the 87-year-old last surviving member of the family, since the ordinance was adopted that would allow the city to take action against the run-down properties. City officials went inside the home in July for the first time, inspecting it for damages and sealing it up for protection for weather and trespassers. The roof was also tarped at that time and the vegetation was removed from around the home. After a story of this action appeared in The Daily Astorian, the newspaper followed up with a second story in which Mary Louise Flavel was interviewed at her home in the greater Portland area. The newspaper did not reveal her address.
“The city has no mechanism to force compliance other than this,” Henningsgaard said. “One of the options the city could have as a result of the proposed liens is to take the Flavels out of the ownership of the properties and get somebody in there who could and would fix the properties up.”
The City Council unanimously approved the liens.
In other city news;
• Councilman Drew Herzig was sworn into his new position Monday night. Herzig beat Peter Roscoe in the election for ward 2. He thanked his partner Charlie Schweigert and the voters for their support.
• Russ Warr, ward 4 councilman, was also sworn in. He was unopposed for his third term. Warr thanked the citizens for voting for him, and said it would be his last four years as a councilman.
• Astoria Fire Chief Ted Ames was sworn in to his position by Mayor Willis Van Dusen. Ames’ wife Tina was by his side, while several members of the Astoria Fire Department and Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) came to watch. “Thank you all very very much. And thank you for the confidence and trust that has been placed in me. I can guarantee you that the folks standing in the back in the blue and green, we’re going to work our rear ends off and we’ll all have a good time and we’ll all do our best to keep the city of Astoria safe and prosperous,” Ames said.
• Astoria Public Works Superintendent Ken Nelson received his 30 year pin for his service to the city.
• A third change order was approved in the amount of $64,355 for the seismic upgrades to the Public Safety Building at 555 30th Street. The project is nearly complete and City Manager Paul Benoit said the money would come from the contingency for the project. Mayor Willis Van Dusen thanked Police Chief Pete Curzon for his “tremendous” work in overseeing the project and securing the grant. “I want to commend you on what a great job you did, not only to get the grant, but you’re over there everyday working on that building and it looks very good. Thank you, I appreciate it,” Van Dusen said.
This story originally appeared in Daily Astorian.