The owner of a sign-covered property in Alderbrook has dodged foreclosure, but could still face legal action if he doesn’t take care of issues that led the Astoria City Council to declare the site a nuisance earlier this summer.
Leroy Olvey, a lifelong Clatsop County resident, has paid the city $55,996, the full amount he needed to pay to halt a process that would have otherwise ended in foreclosure and a public auction of his Birch Street property. Past judgments related to the condition of his property, with relatively smaller fines attached, still remain unpaid. Nothing has changed on the property itself.
“While he’s paid his citation fines, there are still continued violations out there that he has not remedied,” City Manager Brett Estes said. “We still have the junk vehicles and the derelict building issues out there.”
For more than a decade, the city has tried to get the 77-year-old man to clean up his property. Instead, Olvey has covered the house and the yard with colorful signs expressing his opinions about world affairs and local figures, and protesting his alleged treatment by the city over the years. Trash is piled up inside the run-down house and broken, abandoned vehicles litter the overgrown yard. The property has become a neighborhood concern.
In June, the City Council declared Olvey’s property derelict and a nuisance, a tool the city has used to get other owners of run-down or abandoned properties in Astoria — like the Flavel home on 15th Street and Franklin Avenue — into compliance.
“The object of the city was not to get money, it was to clean the property up,” City Attorney Blair Henningsgaard said.
Paying the fines does not buy Olvey any time with the city, it simply halts the process set in motion by the City Council. Henningsgaard said he plans to talk with city councilors about how they want to proceed if Olvey continues to ignore the city’s requests.
“We’re going to be looking at other ways to address this chronic issue,” Estes said.
Olvey maintains his house began to go downhill, literally, after the city installed a sewer in his front yard that turned his property into the drainage point. Every year, he says, his yard floods and his house sinks. He has given up on trying to improve the property and believes he could have grounds for a lawsuit against the city, though he has yet to secure a lawyer. He did not seek legal help in dealing with the fines and the nuisance property designation levied against him this summer.
Though he paid these most recent fines, he says he has no intention of cleaning up the property. Instead, he is working on new signs.
“I’m going to bury it with signs,” Olvey said.