By Casey Crowley

A crew of Baker City employees gathered at an eastside home Friday morning to haul away loads of trash that had accumulated on the property and prompted the city to issue the resident multiple citations over the past year.

It was the second time the city has paid to remove garbage from the property at 1975 Birch St., at the corner of Birch and Washington Avenue.

On June 17, 2017 the city paid a contractor $2,000 to clean up the home where Lucas Gwin lives. His father, Carl Gwin, owned the home, according to county property records.

About six months later, on Dec. 27, 2017, Mark Powell, the city’s code enforcement officer, cited Gwin for more property maintenance ordinance violations.

Gwin was also cited for property maintenance violations on March 13, 2018, April 9, 2018, July 3, 2018 and Aug. 6, 2018.

On Oct. 29, 2018, the Baker County Justice Court issued an order allowing the city to clean up the property and then bill the owner for the cost.

The city had a $5,600 bid from a contractor to do the work, but city officials decided to have a public works employee use a front end loader to gather the refuse.

The city sets aside about $6,000 each year to clean up properties that violate the maintenance ordinance.

Police Chief Dustin Newman, who was at the property Friday morning, estimated there was enough debris in the yard to fill five dumpsters.

The clean up continued on Saturday.

A few of Gwin’s neighbors watched from their yards, while others drove by, honked and waved as they watched the clean up.

Several nearby residents attended the Baker City Council’s Dec. 11 meeting to tell councilors about the conditions at Gwin’s property and to ask the city to do something about the potential health hazards, including an infestation of mice.

Neighbor Mindy Grimer said she hopes that the city will do something more permanent about the issue. Grimer said that since she moved to the area she has seen all sorts of filth at the house, including jars of human urine. She also believes there has been drug activity at the property.

Though she is happy to see the property cleaned up, Grimer thinks the trash will start to pile up again.

“It’s sad to see the taxpayers continue to pay and pay and pay for the clean up,” she said.

See more in the Jan. 14, 2019, issue of the Baker City Herald.