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New Astoria ordinance allows police to tow noisy cars

Condemnation power also granted for bridge work
By Katie Frankowicz

The Daily Astorian

Published on December 5, 2017 8:41AM

Just when people in businesses, apartments and artists’ studios near the Commodore Hotel thought the car alarm had stopped, it started blaring again.

It was the end of October and Astoria police officers couldn’t reach the out-of-town owner who had left the car parked near the hotel for over 24 hours. At the time, city code didn’t allow police to tow the car away. Now, with a new ordinance, they can.

At a meeting Monday night, the Astoria City Council agreed to modify city code and expand the police department’s capacity to tow vehicles and deal with these types of noise complaints. In addition to being able to tow the cars of people arrested for driving drunk or with a suspended license, police can now also tow vehicles whose alarms or horns are “activated continuously, intermittently or repeatedly and a police officer is unable to locate the owner of the vehicle within 20 minutes from the time of arrival at the vehicle’s location.”

The new ordinance is similar to ordinances other cities have enacted to address this kind of nuisance, Interim Police Chief Geoff Spalding wrote in a memo to the City Council. Noise complaints will be prioritized based on what other calls are coming in, said Deputy Chief Eric Halverson. Threats to life and safety still come first.

In other business, the City Council:

• Approved a resolution that will allow City Attorney Blair Henningsgaard to file condemnation proceedings against properties, including property owned by JB Holdings LLC — developer Joe Barnes’ company — if an agreement can’t be reached over an easement the city seeks in order to do bridge work off Seventh Street where Barnes’ property is located.

The city is in the beginning stages of a project to replace short waterfront bridge structures between Sixth and 11th Streets along the Columbia River. The work requires city staff to obtain easements and dedication deeds from a variety of property owners. When the work is finished, city staff and crews will either restore the properties to their previous conditions or, in the case of dedication deeds, compensate the property owners for the value of the slivers of property the city is taking over.

The City Council met in executive session to talk with Henningsgaard and approved the resolution after returning to regular session.

• Accepted a bid by Big River Construction to replenish four slow sand filters at Astoria’s water supply system. Big River’s bid, which at $1.9 million was the lowest of the two bids the city received, came in above the budget for the project. Public works staff trimmed the scope of work to bring the bid down to $1.4 million.

• Approved a resolution by the Astoria Library Foundation that will help the group pursue outside individuals and organizations with “deeper pockets” to fund a renovation of the 50-year-old building, according to Willis Van Dusen, president of the foundation.

The resolution is a “powerful tool highlighting council support for a library worthy of the citizens of Astoria,” wrote Library Director Jimmy Pearson.


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