Spring cleaning may soon have a new meaning to residents of Coos County courtesy of their Board of Commissioners (BOC).

During this year’s budget hearings the BOC disclosed that at this years Associated Oregon Counties (AOC) meeting they proposed a change to the Homestead Emption law whereby unpaid real property liens due to county code violations (cluttered with cars for example); would now be subject to forfeiture laws.

Though a change to existing Oregon State Law is required; the BOC said they’ve created a line item within this year’s budget to fund the program should approval be forthcoming.

In essence the BOC would become the arbitrator of public sensibilities. Would the clear cuts within the county forest; visible from the ‘Charleston to Bandon Scenic Tour Route’; along Seven Devils road constitute a violation, or would the county be exempt?

One commissioner even chided one county landowner who is currently serving a year in county jail for his failure to acknowledge repeated (80-90) code enforcement actions. If the law is changed forfeiture would likely be their next step.

The BOC’s dilemma; if the landowner refuses to comply even by lien placement; there is no other legal option to force compliance. Citizenry civil disobedience prevents collection of revenue. The BOC views this a loophole; that must be closed.

Sound familiar; as previously communicated the BOC currently refuses to abide by state law requiring them to contract with Bay Area Enterprises (BAE); who provides work and training services to people of various disabilities within the community. Since they face no penalties for non-compliance they’re able to redirect those dollars elsewhere. Sound hypocritical?

What do we have to fear? Other governmental jurisdictions in the country use this law to seize real estate worth hundreds of thousands of dollars; selling it to cover a miniscule lien (less than $1,000), then pocket the difference.

Those least likely to comply may already be suffering under an existing economic burden; hampering their ability to defend their Fourth Amendment rights to unreasonable seizure. Is it judicious for the BOC to single out those most downtrodden for forfeiture; rendering them homeless?

Does the taking of any citizen’s property in that manner, really in the public’s best interest? Do government programs generating large sums of revenue each year ever go away; or do they expand to sustain them?

Steve Scheer

Coos Bay

Subscribe to Breaking News

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.