Residents displaced by a Jan. 21 fire at the Frontier Lodge in Phoenix will have to wait to reoccupy the building until repairs of dilapidated conditions can be made.
The city posted a dangerous structure notice on the property Jan. 23, prohibiting occupancy.
Fire gutted one unit and severely damaged the building’s electrical system, displacing 21 people, including six children, from the building at 4631 S. Pacific Highway. American Red Cross provided immediate housing assistance to the residents.
Building owner Jon Paauwe submitted a corrective action plan to the city Monday after receiving a notice of violations.
“It is my intent to comply with what is required,” said Paauwe, when he appeared before Phoenix City Council Monday.
Phoenix City Manager Jamie McLeod said Wednesday the city is concerned about the individuals displaced by the fire.
"We are involved and utilizing city resources so their basic needs are met,” McLeod said. “It’s a complicated situation given that there has been a long history on this site with code violations and concerns about adequacy of services.”
Hotel rooms for displaced residents have been provided by several local groups contacted by the city, including ACCESS, United Way, Maslow Project and First Phoenix Community Center.
United Way has helped put up several families in hotels. The agency tapped its Hope Chest emergency fund, and contributions can be made to a fund at any branch of Umpqua Bank.
“United Way doesn’t traditionally do this work. We jumped in because the city manager asked,” said United Way Executive Director Dee Anne Everson. “In our community, we have no crisis housing.”
ACCESS has been able to provide assistance from state Housing and Community Services agency one-time funds. Those funds will allow for a temporary case manager to assist residents. The agency became involved after initial Red Cross and United Way help.
“We have been able to maintain having most, if not all, of (the residents) remain in their hotels for the last couple of weeks,” said Davis Mulig, director of support services. “Everyone is secure in different locations through next Tuesday.”
The state program could help those looking for new places with deposits and rental support, said Mulig. It also will allow a little more assistance to keep displaced people in hotels for the short term.
McLeod and the city building inspector reviewed the corrective action plan and determined that more information was needed. The city will issue a temporary permit to allow electricity to be turned back on at the site so an electrician can evaluate the system. An inspection by a plumber is also needed, said McLeod.
Paauwe said he posted notices Monday afternoon so contractors could inspect residences to determine what must be done. He said he didn’t realize the heating system was not up to code, and that might be a sticking point in terms of making repairs in a timely manner.
“How are we going to get into another place with no money? Who is going to help us with that? ” said resident Sharon Brock, addressing the council Monday.
On the advice of City Attorney Ryan Kirchoff, council members did not respond to Brock’s statements.
“Our hands are tied on commenting on this. I’m sorry,” said Kirchoff. He said residents could speak with city staff after the meeting.
“Is this a vendetta against my landlord?” Brock asked later in the session.
A team of city building officials inspected the damaged unit and the building’s exterior Jan. 24. The team noted problems with electrical, water, sewer and the building's envelope.
McLeod determined the building was a dangerous structure that required a corrective action plan in writing within 15 days of Feb. 3. A code provision allows for appeal of the determination by Feb. 23. Deficiencies must be corrected within 140 days of the notice.
A code enforcement report noted that 11 nuisance citations were issued between 2011 and 2016 for trash and debris on the premises. That’s notable because the city’s general practice is to not issue citations prior to contacting a property owner to obtain compliance, McLeod wrote in her report to the council.
— Tony Boom is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at email@example.com.