Tenino councilor, 7 others sued over condition of their property


The City of Tenino has sued seven property owners, including City Councilman Frank Anderson, alleging that their lots are “cluttered with junk, debris, garbage, inoperable vehicles and dilapidated.”

Anderson, who owns four nuisance properties named in the lawsuit, already has been assessed a penalty of $127,000 for failing to clean up his property at 1097 Park Ave. E. in Tenino, according to the suit. Mayor Eric Strawn has asked Anderson to step down as a result of his failure to clean up his properties.

Anderson expressed surprise Friday that the city had hired an attorney to sue him.

“I am not happy,” he said. “I’m afraid what I might say might be tainted by my anger and unhappiness.”

Anderson said he has not been served with the lawsuit. He added that he has tried four times to remove a trailer from his Park Avenue property, but police have prevented the people he hired from removing it because they did not know if they were lawfully taking it.

Anderson added that filing for bankruptcy has limited his ability to clean up his properties. Additionally, he owes Thurston County about $40,000 in unpaid property taxes.

Attorney William Cameron of Seattle, who filed the lawsuit Wednesday in Thurston County Superior Court, said city simply wants the owners to bring their properties into compliance with municipal code. Anderson’s Park Avenue already has drawn a penalty, he said, but the other owners can simply clean up their properties to avoid a potential court judgment.

Strawn said Friday that cleaning up the properties is a priority for both the city and neighbors whose property values are affected.

“It’s something we’re taking seriously, and not just letting fall by the wayside,” he said.

The suit identifies the following Tenino properties as being out of compliance:

—198 Ritter St., owned by Thomas L. Haase. The vacant property has “unlawfully deposited fill material” and “is overgrown with weeds, littered with trash, and is unsightly,” the suit states.

—112, 148 and 172 Lincoln Ave., owned by James Hiersche. The first address is abandoned, “has been the subject of vandalism, is deteriorated, and has been the scene of at last one felony committed by vagrants,” the suit states. The building there “is unsound, structurally unstable and uninhabitable,” according to the suit. 148 Lincoln Avenue “is a vacant lot that is overgrown with brush and vegetation,” the suit states, adding that it’s also is covered with junk and garbage. The third property also is abandoned, has been subject to vandalism and “has been the scene of at least one felony committed by vagrants,” according to the suit.

—248 Olympia St. N., owned by Misty Brown. The property is an abandoned single-family residence and is covered with trash, the suit states.

—296 Sussex St., owned by Rosa Daniel. This property consists of two “dilapidated and abandoned buildings” and contains animal feces and trash, according to the suit.

—1097 Park Ave., 148 McArthur St. and 172 McClellan St., owned by Anderson. According to the suit: The front building at 1097 Park Ave. consists of a residence that is in danger of collapse. The structure is “filled with junk and garbage.” There is a uninhabited travel trailer in the front yard. The suit says 172 McClellan St. is an unoccupied residence with a yard covered with debris.

—128 McArthur St., owned by Lola Ritter Bowen. According to the suit, the property consists of a single-wide manufactured home. The covered carport is filled with material and debris, and a dilapidated out-building “sits at the rear of the property and is surrounded by junk and debris,” the suit states.

—169 Wichman St., owned by David Hurn. It has a single-family residence with an addition constructed near the rear of the property that is in danger of collapse, according to the suit. Also, “the roof is deteriorated and is covered with plastic tarp and weights,” the suit states.