Not in my dreams, anyway. But in the sheer, revealing light of day, the papers are starting to accumulate, and I may need several file folders. Copies of neighborhood correspondence, action plans….

I rarely devote the blog to one tooth-gnashing rant calmly considered event or topic, but this week there hasn’t been room for much more.

*   *   *

Last Saturday MH and I saw multiple vehicles apparently moving a family into the house next door to ours. The house had been for sale for many months; the sudden move-in came as a surprise, as we’d followed the listing and had seen no change in status (i.e. from for sale to pending to sold) for it, either online or on the property’s realty sign.

As is our custom to greet new neighbors, MH and I went next door to introduce ourselves. We brought a paper with our contact information on it, and also welcome bottles of wine and sparkling cider to give to (what we thought would be) the new family. Imagine our jaw-dropping  [1] surprise to discover that the house had either been sold or is being rented to “House of Hope,” an organization running a halfway house for drug and alcohol addicts.

We briefly met the HOH organization’s Executive Director. The ED  [2] was at the house to supervise the move but will not be living there (she said there will be a “live-in house coordinator” on site at all times.) Ms. ED gave the shell-shocked MH and I two handouts: a copy of the information pamphlet/contract given to those entering the HOH program, and a three page, tactlessly titled, Good Neighbor Agreement.  ED said she intended to go to a few (but not all) homes in the neighborhood on Monday to introduce herself and the program, and at that time would ask us and these neighbors to sign off on the GNA.

Fat effing chance, lady, I thought, as MH and I zombie-staggered back to our house.

 

 

zombie

Yep, it kinda felt like this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My thoughts were confirmed after I read the so-called Good Neighbor Agreement. The GNA – an odd document containing weasel-word phraseology (“some individuals may have a legal history instead of, “may have served jail time) and typos – was presented as a way to inform the locals on how the HOH plans on being a good neighbor (“nuisances avoidance”) and how we should contact them directly with concerns.  Instead, the document comes off as assuming an adversarial relationship, and, as every neighbor who has read the document has commented, is likely to be used as a shield against future complains (You signed the GNA; you knew there are addicts living here who have a ‘legal history’ “….)

Golly Gosh Gee.  Call me naïve, but I’ve known many bona fide good neighbors over the years, none of whom tried to get me to sign off on some kind of half-baked agreement,  [3] as if I were entering a contractual or fiduciary relationship with them.

 

 

 

yeahwhatshesaid

 

 

 

 

The HOH business describes itself as a “faith-based,” non-profit organization providing “transitional housing opportunity” and the prospect to “grow spiritually,” for adult women recovering from drug and alcohol addiction (lots of religious wording in the documents).  The business was previously located not in our city (Hillsboro), but in another city, on property owned by a church which sponsors the program. According to the ED, HOH had to move from its original location because “someone decided” to open a school on the church grounds. But it is still being run from there, seven miles away.  And they decided to relocate…here.

Here, is a cul-de-sac, where young children play at the end of the street, in a neighborhood zoned Single Family Residential. The HOH houses multiple unrelated adults under one roof.  [4]   But if a person or organization seeks an exemption to the zoning regulations they must file for a conditional use permit, and a public notice and public hearing is required – neither of which has happened.

Or at least, that used to be the case.

I’ve been hearing different things from different people (including the city employees we talk to on the phone). Apparently, there are state and federal “anti-discrimination” laws that can allow for such organizations to be located in an otherwise SFR neighborhood, without having to post notice or hold a hearing.

 

 

 

 

 

This is surprising and even shocking to us.  Like many residents of our city, I remain mindful about what happened here a few years ago, when a sexual offender living in a residential treatment center left the center on two consecutive nights, broke into nearby residences, and raped first a 21 year old woman and then an 11 year old girl, at knifepoint. Neighbors where the center was located had not been notified – had no idea – that the house in their midst was not occupied by several male friends splitting the rent but was in fact a treatment center for convicted sex offenders.

 

 

REALLY

 

 

Really.

MH and I felt blindsided by the sudden presence of a residential addiction treatment facility next door, and believe it is a violation of city zoning laws, as well as a detriment to the values (both personal and property) and safety of the our ‘hood.  Our real neighbors felt just as strongly – some more so, due to their experiences with addicts and outpatient treatment centers. The ‘hood’s Neighborhood Watch organizer and others sprang into action, and in the past few days there have been many “interesting” discoveries.

One neighbor, JM, volunteered to become the neighborhood point person, after she too was blindsided by a visit from the HOH’s ED  [5] . JM was stunned by the ED’s insistence that HOH could house two persons per bedroom and that their house has seven bedrooms and thus “we can have up to 14” residents living in the house. [6] The ED furthermore stated that the HOH had received approval from both the city and the county and there was nothing other homeowners could do.

 

 

 

pinnochio

“We can have as many bedrooms and residents as we say we can have and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

 

 

 

 

 

Assisted by other neighbor’s research, JM found that there were “multiple complaints and law enforcement visits at the site where The HOH program was previously located.” She contacted our city’s Senior Planner, who told her the ED’s claim of being allowed to house 14 persons was “inaccurate,” to say the least, and that HOH had been informed of the maximum allowed occupancy of 8 unrelated persons per residence.  [7]

JM also contacted the house’s listing realtor, who described the buyers as an older couple who purchased the house and who used a buyer’s agent.  Neither the buyer nor their agent disclosed who would actually be living in the house “until the last minute.”

I think the ED’s encounter with JM and others sparked a realization: the neighbors here are united in our outrage at her organization’s subterfuge and disregard for our neighborhood’s safety and livability concerns and zoning regulations. We are not duped by any alleged Good Neighbor Agreement  maneuvers.  We are neither impressed nor assuaged by language like, “faith-based,” nor intimidated by veiled threats of NIMBY accusations and/or not caring about helping others, to bend over for this.

The ED never showed up at MH’s and my house, as she’d promised.

 

*   *   *

Department Of Time For A Baby Sloth Break.

 

I don’t know about you, but I need one.

 

 

pajamasloth

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Where It Stands Now

The Senior Planner with whom JM spoke requested she give him “a couple of days” to research the situation. Other neighbors continue to do their research,  [8] including meeting with the mayor, providing him with the HOH documents HOH and giving him a tour of our neighborhood. The mayor is being described as “very supportive, proactive, and clearly understands the point of view of our community,” and will take the issue to the City Manager. The Neighborhood Watch captain and others have gone door to door to give people copies of the HOH documents and are arranging a neighborhood meeting for next week, to share information and our various discoveries, and discuss what we hope will not be necessary – the need to further strategize, should the going-through-the-bureaucracy options fail.

But I think any discovery is basically going to lead to what we’ve already surmised: we were blindsided.  Bushwhacked.  Sucker-punched.  The HOH people hid information, spread mis-information, and dissembled if not outright lied. That self-described, “Christ-centered” organization snuck in and counted on inertia, assuming that even if laws – and even basic, common human courtesy to potential neighbors – were ignored, bent or even broken, it would be difficult to get them out once they were in.

 

Because, you know, Jesus told them, “Blessed are those who trick their neighbors and then take the, “It is too legal! We’re here and you can’t make us leave, nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah tactic.”

 

 

winkinJC

 

 

 

True Good Neighbors ® that we are, MH and I hold no ill will toward the HOH residents themselves.  They did not choose the house site. It is the organization’s leaders who have proven untrustworthy.  No matter what happens, we intend to take the high road in our dealings with them. [9]

The neighbors who have shared their concerns with me hold a variety of political and religious beliefs (including those of us who are religion-free), and include native Oregonians to first generation immigrants [10]  to green card holders, and none of them want an addiction recovery business down the block, nor would they have chosen to move here if they knew such a place was in the neighborhood.

“Faith-based,” my happy heathen patootie.  Moiself would, of course, prefer any organization to be fact-based.  It doesn’t matter if HOH calls their philosophy plutonium-based, or whatever – it is simply inappropriate for that kind of business to be located in this residential neighborhood.

 

*   *   *

Department Of Finding The Silver Lining

A delicious irony not lost upon MH and moiself : the first (and last) welcome wagon for the “faith-based” drug and alcohol house consisted of two atheists bearing a bottle of booze.

 

 

 

FNA

 

 

 

*   *   *

May you enjoy the delicious ironies life hands you;
May your motivations and decisions be fact- and reality-based;
May you find comfort in the occasional baby sloth picture;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Which in my case involved babbling incoherently like a tRump cabinet appointee an idiot about how they are welcome to come over anytime to retrieve any Frisbees that may fly over the fence from their backyard into ours…. I was trying to keep myself from saying what I was really thinking.

[2] I find the acronym appropriate.

[3] Which doesn’t even stipulate why they want you to sign the document, and what would be the consequences of signing it.

[4] And, as readers who continue on will discover, more adults under one roof than is allowed.

[5] “Who invited herself in, say down at our table and kept insisting I sign the GNA.”

[6] The house was listed as four bedrooms, with an option for a fifth, because the bonus room had been converted to a bedroom (to house an elderly parent) by the previous owners. One neighbor who is also a realtor had seen the inside of the house, and said that there is no way there could be seven legal bedrooms in that house.

[7] Even at 8 unrelated adults…this is a cul de sac. Where the hell are they all going to park?

[8] Advised by one neighbor who is a former City Manager. People in this ‘hood know their stuff.

[9] I wonder if that road includes asking the HOH to reimburse us for the cost of the security cameras we’ve been advised to install?

[10] From other countries as well as other states.