Drug House

Members of the Baker County Narcotics Enforcement Team detained 13 people at this home on East Street in June. Police said people involved in criminal activity congregate at the home. On Monday the city hired a contractor to clean up debris from the property, after receiving an abatement order from a Justice of the Peace.

An abatement order signed in May by Justice of the Peace Brent Kerns was executed Monday at 2339 East St. in Baker City.

The property is known by police not only as a nuisance for its accumulation of garbage, discarded vehicles and graffiti, but for its reputation as a “high crime activity home” that welcomes transients, many of whom have been involved in criminal activity.

In a June operation conducted on the property by the Baker County Narcotics Enforcement Team, 13 individuals were detained and identified at the property. Three men were cited on warrants, one was taken to jail for a post-prison violation charge out of Josephine County and a fifth was wanted in Idaho, but Idaho would not extradite him. As recently as Saturday police arrested a Baker City man at the house charged with violating a restraining order against him.

Justice of the Peace Kerns found during a May 6 hearing brought by the City of Baker City against James Jay Coe, the former homeowner, that the property, which at the time was in foreclosure, was “a nuisance and is unsafe.”

Kerns allowed the city to take any measures necessary to bring the property into compliance with City code.

Upon signing the order of abatement on May 18, Kerns wrote that “The City of Baker has gone well beyond what is required to give defendant reasonable time to bring the property into compliance with the respective Ordinances with which the property has not complied. The nuisance has not been fully abated.”

Police Chief Ray Duman said the City typically tries to work with the property owner to fix the problem rather than going through the abatement process. For one thing, the City has a budget of just $6,000 for property abatement for the year.

Monday’s cleanup of the property at 2339 East St. cost about $1,000. The work was done by Dewey Jacobs and B&K Salvage, Duman said.

B&K removed metal, including car parts and frames, from the yard for little profit.

“They’re not making a whole lot of money,” he said of the cleanup workers. “They’re doing it as a community service.”

A bill will be sent to the current owner, US Bank, which bought the property on March 15, 2020, for $15,201, according to Baker County Assessor’s Office records. Coe has continued to live at the address.

Sale of the property to another buyer is reportedly pending, Duman said.

“We’ve been trying to get some of these places cleaned up — especially that one,” he said.

Coe did work to remove some of the offensive material from the property, but not enough of it, Duman said. He acknowledged that many times property owners don’t have the money to complete the work that needs to be done.

“The police department’s position is trying to work with the homeowners to get these properties cleaned up,” Duman said. “We’ve brought in dumpsters, civic groups, churches. It takes a whole community to do these things.”

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