PORT ANGELES — The city of Port Angeles has condemned a First Street building that has been described as a blight on the neighborhood for more than a decade.
The unanimous action taken Tuesday night means the city has started the process of taking ownership of the structure at 204 E. Front St., where a fire was started by a homeless person trying to stay warm on March 26.
That was the most recent problem with the abandoned building, city officials have said.
“This has been an issue for the city for at least 11 years,” City Attorney Bill Bloor said Tuesday.
“Starting in 2011, the city started to send out notices to the owner notifying him of some nuisance issues with the building,” Bloor said.
“The pattern has been that the owner would get one of those notices and fix the building up just enough to be in compliance and then after a while it would revert back to the same nuisance issues,” he added.
Officials have said the site is littered with drug paraphernalia and other trash.
The building’s owner, David Gladwin, could not be reached for comment.
The city was presented with two resolutions during its Tuesday meeting.
The first was to ratify a declaration of emergency and abatement made by City Manager Nathan West on March 30, following the fire and medical emergency in the building. The second was to condemn the building as a blight and begin the legal process to bring it into the city’s control.
By condemning the building, the city sets into motion a process that will allow it to determine if the building is demolished, renovated or sold.
“The condemnation is a court action, so the first thing that we are going to do is actually get the building sealed up so we don’t have any people in there,” Bloor said.
“No more fires. No more medical emergencies in that building. That’s going to be the first action,” he told the council.
“We are putting together a scope of work for that and hiring a contractor who is able to do that work pretty quickly. After that is done, then we will file the court paperwork, which will be similar to what was in our council packet,” he added.
Bloor noted the process will be costly.
“This sounds really good, to condemn the property and seal it up and to take those actions that will stop the trend that has been happening over the last decade, but it’s also going to be expensive, so as to that last recommendation, I would like to suggest that you add to that some wording that authorizes the City Manager to take additional actions to recover those costs,” Bloor said.
Council member Navarra Carr asked for clarification on what it means for the city to condemn the building and the process.
“Condemnation in this context simply means that we would be taking the ownership and control of the building,” Bloor said.
“It doesn’t have anything to do with the fate of the building.
“In fact, for council’s information, we are looking to hire a structural engineer to do an evaluation of the building to see if it’s worth rehabilitating,” Bloor said.
Council member Brendan Meyer concluded that, while he is typically opposed to this kind of action, he understands it needed to happen.
“As a believer in private property rights, I don’t like that the city was forced to take this extreme action, but it is clear this building poses a danger to public safety, the safety of our first responders, and the blemish it is on the downtown,” Meyer said.
“I look forward to seeing it revitalized or torn down,” Meyer said.
Reporter Ken Park can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.