Five tax-foreclosed properties were put up for auction in July and Clatsop County sold two of them, including a dilapidated house on G Road in Jeffers Garden.
County commissioners enthusiastically accepted the bids on Wednesday night and were hopeful for the future of G Road.
The property was sold to John Harper, a regional cigarette and marijuana store financier, for the minimum bid of $45,000.
Harper has purchased property from county auctions in the past and “has done a wonderful, beautiful job restoring those properties,” said Sirpa Duoos, a county property management specialist.
Harper plans on restoring the house on G Road into reasonably priced housing for his employees, like he’s done with the last two properties he bought at auctions.
With about 25 employees in Clatsop County, Harper said it is important to him that they have housing that is affordable.
Clatsop County foreclosed on the G Road property, known to neighbors as the “purple house,” because of unpaid taxes. The county hired a firm to clean up garbage and other debris, but there is still deferred maintenance to the home, including cracks in the foundation, sloping floors and dry rot.
James Neikes, who owns property next door, said it became known as a drug house where sheriff’s deputies were routinely called about complaints. He called the former occupants a “community of destruction.”
“I think that we certainly know that in any area, urban or rural, a house that is such a blight ... it’s hard on the whole neighborhood,” Commissioner Pamela Wev said. “Especially given what was going on in that house. That house was kind of a perfect storm of violations. I don’t think there was anything that didn’t happen on that site.”
Neighbors were thrilled the property was being auctioned and were hopeful it would be turned into something good.
“I’m hoping we can strengthen our nuisance ordinance in the county,” Wev said. “In Oregon, we have pretty strong tenants’ rights rules, etcetera, and of course, exercise due process in everything we do. And so, it just takes so much time to be able to act on properties like that.
“And I’d like to see maybe our ordinance have a little bit more teeth in it so that we don’t have to put neighborhoods through what those folks have been through.”