Bah Humbug Tigard!

Christmas treeBah Humbug Tigard!

My wife and son went out last night to buy a Christmas tree for a local tree lot. When they got home, with a tree, they said the City of Tigard was forcing the tree lot to move. This incident even made today’s Oregonian, as reported by Bill Oram.

The City of Tigard said that Larry’s Custom Christmas Trees was operating an outdoor business in a residential zone, and had to shut down right away. The City was investigating a complaint about a tree lot in the Washington Square area and was driving by Larry Knudsen’s business. Larry has received, in past years, assurances from the City of Tigard that he could operate there. I’m sure the Code Enforcement Officer has driven by there many times over the last 3 years.

The tree lot, located on Hall Blvd. near the intersection of Oak St. in the Metzger neighborhood, is on a busy state highway and there is very little residential property left on this road.  Most uses are commercial or high occupancy residential. Larry was located right next to a Goodwill drop of center and an outdoor pottery business.  These are commercial operations.

The City of Tigard missed an opportunity to demonstrate they understand the challenges faced by the small business sector, especially in this business climate. Larry is most likely going to lose money this year because his regular customers will not be able to find him. (Let’s hope that the public takes sympathy and buys all of Larry’s trees). Instead, the City generated negative publicity. They forced Larry to move, 3 blocks away, to a true residential area that is outside their jurisdiction. All they did was shift the “problem” onto someone else. There will be far more impact to these residents than the original location. This impact will be short lived because Larry’s season will only be for 2 more weeks.

Instead of taking a hammer to the problem, I believe the City of Tigard could have handled it any of the following ways:

  • Continue to ignore the Christmas tree lot. After all, there were no complaints about this tree lot.
  • Tell Larry he can finish out the season and not come back.
  • Give Larry official notice that he is violating zoning laws and that he has 30 days to shut down the business.

I’m sure the City has reasons why my suggestions would not have worked. I am not against rules and regulations, but one size does not fit all. There are always situations that “fall through the cracks”, and the challenge to any enlightened bureaucracy is to handle these incidents in a manner that does the least harm.

I wonder. If the City of Tigard issued Larry a business license, will he get his money back?

Wayne B. Pruner is a Realtor® at Oregon First, who works in the Portland and Tigard, Oregon area. He is ready to help you with all your real estate needs and he is also a licensed contractor. Wayne knows houses. His phone number is 503-891-0795. Here are links to his real estate website and his real estate blog.

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