Old ordinance deemed burdensome and time-consuming

In an effort to streamline its processes, the city of West Linn is starting to clean up some of its codes.

During its Nov. 19 meeting, the city council approved a second reading of some code amendments that would make the sale of surplus property easier.

The issue arose when the city bought the property at 1698 Dodge Way for $1 in spring of 2011. When the city began to consider selling the site, staff determined the process was too lengthy and costly.

The old ordinance sorted property into three categories, and there were different sales processes for each classification.

Generally, the old code required a notice and city council hearing before proposing a sale; an appraisal; the council setting a price; the solicitation of bids; listing the property; and using a request for proposals to choose a real estate broker. Then, if the property did not sell for the set price, the process started all over again from the beginning.

According to Assistant City Attorney Megan Thornton, the old process was problematic because it required an appraisal for each property, which can be expensive, and the bidding process for a broker can be time-consuming and burdensome.

To overcome those obstacles, the new code will give the city flexibility to determine the sale price through any method, such as a market analysis or an appraisal. Also the new code will not require a request for proposals.

Another change to the code is the removal of a time restriction for the length of sale, which allows the city to list a sale for however long it wishes.

But perhaps the biggest benefit of the updated code, according to Thornton, is that there is only one process for the sale of all property. It would still require a public hearing, and the city council will still have to approve the sale of the property.

Also, the code changes let the council discuss bids on property during executive session rather than in public meetings.

“I believe this undermines our goals for transparency and accountability,” said Councilor Teri Cummings.

Cummings was the lone vote against the proposed changes during the second reading.