BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS'

REGULAR MEETING

December 3, 2003

1:30 p.m.

Commissioners' Conference Room

APPROVED 1/7/04

 

Commissioner Peter Sorenson presided with Commissioners Bill Dwyer, Bobby Green, Sr., Don Hampton and Anna Morrison present. County Administrator Bill Van Vactor, County Counsel Teresa Wilson and Recording Secretary Melissa Zimmer were also present.

 

12. PUBLIC HEARINGS

 

a. CONTINUED PUBLIC HEARING AND ORDER 03-10-29-19/In the Matter of Upholding the Decision of the Director of Public Works Denying a Driveway Access to Property at 92256 Marcola Road Identified as Tax Lot 16-01-18-40-900.

 

Frank Simas, Public Works, reported he was last before the Board on October 29, 2003 and at that time the motion to uphold the Public Work Director’s denial of the access did not pass because the full board was not present. He noted at that time the public record was left open to allow the appellants and staff to submit any additional information for the granting of the driveway. He stated that staff’s determination was that there was not safe stopping distance at that site and it did not meet the criteria.

 

Simas noted since the last hearing they had four items to add to the public record. He said one item was a letter from the Mohawk Rural Fire District. He said they had received notification of the pending appeal and they had replied with a letter stating that the denial of a driveway access at that location would not impact their delivery of services. He added the other item submitted by staff was a copy of a letter dated April 16, 2002 that was part of the mailing in preparation for the beginning of construction on the section of Marcola Road. He said the letter specifically addressed items that were in the existing right-of-way since no additional right-of-way was required. He added it informed them of the project and the need to get any items they wanted to salvage out of the right-of-way by the start of construction.

 

Simas indicated the Jallos submitted two items: a letter from Mrs. Rice, a neighbor and copies of four photographs showing the past usage of the driveway for parking

 

Simas said that since the additional information had been submitted, staff’s recommendation and the Public Works Director’s denial had not changed. He said based on the lack of adequate safe stopping distance and the likelihood that someone would back out of the location, that it is unsafe and not a proper location for a driveway exit. He noted staff was still recommending that access not be granted.

 

Commissioner Sorenson opened up the continued Public Hearing.

 

Lois Paschelke, 92655 Paschelke Road, Marcola, stated for 20 years she had been the contact person on the Upper Mohawk Valley area. She said as a result of checking the areas, Cheryl Jallo should have her driveway back, as it was a long established driveway used by eastern Lane Fire Patrol and their headquarters. She stated the main problem for the Jallos in using Queen Street as an access to Marcola Road is that the two lanes of the road in front of her house travel at different speeds. She thought Queen Street was dangerous. She added that the Jallos were not notified they would lose the driveway and thought it was unfair. She asked the Board for the Jallos’ driveway to be given back.

 

There being no one else signed up to speak, Commissioner Sorenson closed the Public Hearing.

 

MOTION: to move to reject the director’s report and allowing access pursuant to the issuance of a facility permit.

 

Dwyer MOVED, Hampton SECONDED.

 

Dwyer commented the government made a mistake and failed to recognize its mistake. He said they paved over her driveway and she didn’t know about it. He added her address is on Marcola Road and people should be able to get to their house from the street they live on. He agreed the danger is Queen Street, not the driveway that she lives on. He said the County has to hone up when they make an error and they need to fix it.

 

Green asked when the property owner had an opportunity to weigh in on the final design.

 

Simas indicated the included map did not show the driveway at that location.

 

Sonny Chickering, Public Works, reiterated that there was not a notice sent to the property owner indicating specifically that their driveway would be removed. He said they had been caught up with retirements of long-term employees and he didn’t do a good enough job to make sure that all the tasks of a retiring employee were picked up and reassigned to someone else. He noted they did make contact and discussed driveways specifically with property owners from whom they were acquiring right-of-way, but the step where they were not acquiring property from owners was missed. He said they have corrected the situation and in future years they won’t have that problem. He said it was staff’s point of view that had they sent the proper notice and had a conversation with the property owner, it would have resulted in the same decision and the same recommendation to close the driveway. He didn’t believe there was a change in the end product but they did acknowledge the error in the notification and the discussion with the property owner.

 

VOTE: 4-1 (Morrison dissenting).

 

13. COMMISSIONERS BUSINESS

 

a. REPORT/Presentation of the Lane County Animal Regulation Authority Task Force Report.

 

Scott Bartlett, Lane County Animal Regulation Task Force, stated they have an 11-member task force. He reported that 15 months ago in response to a community outcry for action with respect to a crisis and overpopulation of cats, the Board assembled the Lane County Animal Regulation Task Force. He said the Board asked them to do due diligence to give an honest and thorough analysis in the areas of licensing, spay and neuter, legal, education, facility and staffing and funding.

 

Bartlett explained the report includes thousands of hours of individual and collective research. He added not everyone agreed on everything. He said they interviewed people from across the country and read thousands of pages of information. He added the task force members were citizens trying to do what the Board asked them to do.

 

Bartlett noted there are insufficient kennels at LCARA for holding time. Also, public awareness is insufficient as to the existence of LCARA. He added that LCARA’s primary function is protecting public health and safety.

 

With regard to dog licensing in Lane County, Bartlett reported there are 76,000 dogs in Lane County. He noted there are currently 13,000 licensed dogs, including 7,500 in Eugene. He said the total revenue from the licensing is $160,000. He said they could triple the licensing figure or $480,000 to help LCARA. He added there is a crisis in the cat population. He noted beyond the 86,000 cats in households is another 40% to 60% of feral cat overpopulation. He explained the current obstacles to effective licensing include a lack of a fully integrated countywide rabies vaccination reporting and licensing program with local veterinarians, He added there were also insufficient locations and accessibility to licensing sales and opportunities, inadequate LCARA staff levels to operate, supervise and upgrade license or credit card payment capacity. He noted the need for improved coordination between municipalities besides the City of Eugene.

 

Bartlett stated the committee recommended that the Board of Commissioners immediately institute code changes within its jurisdiction to require that all veterinarians report the issuance of rabies vaccinations to the County. He also recommended that the Board of Commissioners expand limit laws to allow more companion animals per household. He encouraged the City of Eugene and other incorporated municipalities to expand the limit laws. He said they recommended a voluntary cat identification registry and urged the Board of Commissioners to set a goal of tripling the number of dog licenses from 13,000 to 39,000 by January 15, 2007. He said by tripling the amount of the licenses, an additional $324,000 could be available within three years for vital services. He added they also wanted a slight incremental increase from the current $10/25 differential between neutered and uneutered to $15/35 for the cost.

 

Dr. Roberta Boyden, Veterinarian, stated that the reporting of rabies vaccinations of dogs, cats and ferrets to city, county or state agencies is common practice throughout the United States. She said that it is the norm rather than the exception. She said that none of the research showed that participating in the rabies reporting decreases public willingness to vaccinate their pets.

 

With regard to client confidentiality, Boyden said their code and law to keep their medical records confidential binds them as veterinarians. She said that some practitioners think that releasing the names and addresses of their clients as it is written on a rabies certificate might violate privacy laws. She added their code of ethics also states that veterinarians should obey all laws of the jurisdiction of which they reside and practice veterinary medicine. She stated it was important that the County health officials know and have easy access to the vaccination status of animals in the community.

 

Boyden indicated the code addition they have recommended placed limitations on access to the information. She said it allows only public health officials access for reasons of public health and returning lost animals to their owners. She added it gives them access all the time instead of just during the operating hours of veterinary practices. She stated that accessing and using the information for reasons other than public health is a violation of both the County code and federal record computer tampering laws. She said they had made recommendations that protect their clients’ confidentiality. She noted the licensure of all dogs in the County has been required for years. She stated the County by law should already have the information on the rabies certificate if they are in compliance.

 

Boyden noted another concern is that many people have more dogs than they are allowed by the city or county codes in which they reside. She said this could be a problem and the task force didn’t want individuals to be in violation. She said they attempted to exclude the use of the information from the rabies reporting for enforcement of pet limit laws but it could not be placed in the code according to County legal advice.

 

Boyden said that rabies reporting is an easy task for veterinary practices and has the potential to provide a service to the community. She noted it required a simple procedure of either filing out a rabies certificate in triplicate by hand or through the computer. She added that clinics already give a certificate to each owner of an animal after it has received a rabies vaccination. She said they would only have to provide a copy of that information to LCARA. She said with this information agencies would be able to respond to dog bite reports and the increase in licensing would make return of lost dogs to their home faster and leave more space at LCARA for abandoned and surrendered animals. She thought the most important part would be that it would provide a consistent funding source for LCARA. She thought enactment of this code would create benefits in terms of public health and providing a stable revenue source for LCARA.

 

Janetta Overholser, Task Force Member, reported that in South Lane County they have a low income spay and neuter program and in three years they helped with the cost of spaying and neutering 300 animals and spent over $15,000. She noted that in the area there is an overpopulation of cats. She commented that animals affect everyone and they have to do something about it.

 

Charles Horton, Task Force Member, read a letter from Judge Cynthia Sinclair.

 

William Fleenor, Task Force Member, reported the task force spent time and effort in reviewing the Lane County Animal Control Code, Chapter 7 with respect to deficiencies and omissions in compliance with existing state laws. He noted that many of the proposed modifications are based on existing state law and will bring Lane County into compliance. He said the desire of the task force is that the proposed new code additions will provide LCARA, local courts and law enforcement with all of the tools to deal with the violator population and provide enhanced protection for all citizens and animals within the county. He said a thorough public review must be performed for each of their changes. He said that a fully integrated and comprehensive code is essential to adopting, implementing and maintaining a successful animal care and control system. He noted that many of the proposed code changes are interrelated and interdependent. He said the task force requested that sufficient time and resources be provided during the legal review process to ensure an attempt is made to produce a final working animal control code that incorporates most of the task force’s suggested changes. He said they reviewed the chapter with public safety and enforcement, public health and animal welfare issues. He noted the task force added additional code to address serious violator issues that had not been addressed.

 

Bartlett explained their recommendations include placing with the Lane County assessors annual tax statement a brochure that includes a license application and information about the program and in the In Lane publication. He said they also recommended renaming LCARA as Lane County Animal Care and Control because this agency has a protective and humane function. He said they encouraged a creation of a Friends of LCARA shelter tax exemption and a pet referral service creating Spanish language public service announcements. He added they recommended signage in the City of Eugene and Lane County Parks about LCARA. He said they also wanted the Board of Commissioners to recommend an LCARA advisory committee to meet quarterly and an annual animal summit. He noted that LCARA’s is open to the public 21½ hours. He said they need to change it as close to seven days a week as possible. He said they recommended either a thorough overall change phased in incremental stages or a complete replacement of the LCARA facility, approving an immediate construction of a minimum of 30 additional kennels. They wanted expanded office hours for adoption, and hiring additional staff to manage kennel expansion. He added the Board of Commissioners should consider the creation of a new employee classification of kennel caretaker to free up animal welfare officers to handle abuse and neglect cases and to hire additional employees to patrol all of rural Lane County to adequately respond to citizen calls.

 

Bartlett recommended keeping the current level for LCARA in the budget. He asked for increased funding with additional revenue initiatives, to add code language to establish veterinarian reporting of rabies vaccination to County health authorities with LCARA acting as custodian. He said they identified a surcharge on pet food, devoted to euthanasia reduction and elimination. He said after they have had the revenues for three years, they want to help other cities to also implement related programs for revenue sharing. He said they are recommending a targeted spay and neuter program, taking LCARA to the community through a variety of outreach programs, expansion of LCARA facilities to provide sufficient holding time, code modernization and creating a countywide data base. He asked the Board to consider this report and the hard work that went into it.

 

• Response from Management Services (David Suchart)

 

David Suchart, Management Team, recalled in 1993 there was a public hearing for LCARA on the subject, "Did the officers use the credibility of LCARA and the enforcement tactics at that time?" He said in 1995 he made sure that the work that went out was implemented. He noted during the past eight years they have implemented a number of items about credibility. (Copy in file). He said the current situation is that he gets one complaint every six months where in the past he had five complaints a day. He supported most of the recommendations. His concerns were about the ability to finance and provide resources in a consistent manner to manage the program. He wanted clear direction from the Board of Commissioners as to which of the recommendations they wanted he and Mike Wellington to work on.

 

Jan Clements, Sheriff, stated subsequent to receiving the report that there is a conference with the Sheriff’s Office because there are some things that fall in the role of traditional law enforcement. He noted that code enforcement goes up to a point, but when it becomes confrontational, it becomes law enforcement and there is detention and arrest for which there is inadequate explanation in how the animal welfare officers will handle those situations. He supported the interest by which means they can enforce the code if it is properly constructed at a cost less than a deputy sheriff to do the same thing. He noted there was no reserve program for animal welfare officers to take in a police academy. He said the Board would have to determine if the NACA is a course that would adequately equip them to do the job. He was concerned about an animal control officer entering onto a property to enable the animal welfare officer to seize an animal. He stated that no constitutional analysis had been done; that there has to be sound legal analysis about the provisions of the code. He said when they get to a point of prospective confrontation; there should be a fully trained police officer on hand. He noted an issue that would need to be reviewed is an animal officer as a peace officer. He said changing the Lane Code that causes LCARA to be the responsible agency for dealing with livestock issues is an encroachment on the responsibility of the sheriff. He sees LCARA setting up for confrontation as well as not being staffed to cover for animal welfare officers.

 

Dr. Sandy Smalley, Veterinarian, said when Dr. Mary Whitlock resigned from the task force, she replaced her as a Lane County Veterinarian representative. She said when the task force members voted on accepting the findings and recommendations report and the changes to the Lane County Code, there were three abstentions. She said she was the only member to vote against the report. She was concerned about the language with some of the proposed code changes. She said if and when the code changes become permanent there might be problems. She said the key to the success of the task force proposals is widespread support. She said the greatest matter is code change 7.088 (mandated rabies vaccination reporting). She said that veterinarians are concerned about protecting clients’ confidentiality and medical records. She said the task force originally suggested language that protected the information but it was later removed. She proposed that if the code change is accepted the language originally suggested be reinstated. She noted the second reason the code change is unacceptable is that members of the public are worried about the limit laws. She said that limit laws restrict the number of dogs that may legally reside in one household. She said while the task force recommends that the Board of Commissioners immediately require veterinarians to report all rabies vaccines to LCARA, changes to the limit laws are lagging behind. She said the task force could not amend the limitations but those two issues must be addressed simultaneously. She commented if the mandatory reporting passes, there are people who are threatening to vaccinate their dogs outside of the county or not at all. She said that limit laws must be changed or abolished. She asked until that happens, don’t make veterinarians report the information.

 

With regard to 7.072, she thought the definition of serious communicable disease needed to be clarified for the State Department of Health and the Oregon Veterinary Medical Association prior to inclusion in the code. She added another issue was the licensing of cats. She commented that Wellington didn’t have the officers, cattery or inclination to impound cats but they included language that provides for the impoundment of euthanasia of the animals. She asked the Board to review each item carefully.

 

• Questions by the Commissioners

 

Dwyer thanked the task force for the report. He said by accepting the report they were not approving it as the work product, but a product of the citizens with good intentions and doing the best they could. He commented that Lane County is in a fiscal crisis. He said there wasn’t enough money to run the kennel. He thought they needed to do better with what they have.

 

Morrison agreed they needed to have a public hearing. She wanted to know if this was all valid due to the Oregon Meetings Law. She was concerned that people have not participated or were denied access to participate. She didn’t know if they could increase the revenues enough to offset the expense of having more people in the field. She didn’t see any type of business plan that justifies the expense to the revenues that are going to be generated. She said they would be under-funded, and under staffed until they can She thought in the five years she had been on the board there had been an endeavor with the veterinary community to create a better relationship. She wanted the Board to have a list of specific questions to have staff address. She wanted to know why there was a discrepancy in the budget from the prior year to this year. She wanted a discussion around LCARA’s budget.

 

Sorenson was concerned about the link between violence against women and children and the evidence that exists about violence against animals. He wanted to continue working on this and suggested a work session on the specific topic of the licensing strategy of how to get the licensing up for a code change for a rabies vaccination. He also wanted a work session on the revenue picture and the new proposal for a surcharge. He wanted to make sure that the public has every right to testify before the board on any of the proposals if they achieve any degree of support to go to the public for purposes of adoption and moving forward with an ordinance or change so the public has a full right to testify on what is being suggested.

 

Green asked how this report fit with the Strategic Plan and the $6 million deficit facing Lane County’s next budget cycle. He said they need to work with legal counsel and staff to make sure that some of the things are enforceable. He wanted to make sure that this document fits into everything they do as a Board.

 

Hampton stated this report was a tool. He commented that they have to figure out how to fund the solution. He wasn’t sure what the identified problem was. He stated identifying what the problem is only part of what they have to do. He asked if they had enough money to fund the solution

 

14. APPEALS

 

None.

 

15. COMMISSIONERS' ANNOUNCEMENTS

 

None.

 

16. CORRESPONDENCE TO THE BOARD

 

None.

 

17. OTHER BUSINESS

 

None.

 

There being no further business, Commissioner Sorenson recessed the meeting into Executive Session at 3:35 p.m.

 

Melissa Zimmer

 

Recording Secretary