Boarding house attracts crime in Salem

SALEM, Ore. (KOIN) — Residents in a residential Salem neighborhood are not pleased with the planning commission after a ruling allowed a residential care facility to become a room rental business that is attracting a great deal of police attention.

Salem police said the property at 2630 Church Street NE has become a concern. They already have been called to the residence at least 20 times this year.

Neighbors like Ronald Burton are frustrated.

“I can’t understand that (zoning decision) because it’s our neighborhood,” he said. “It’s not them living here. It’s us that has to put up with this stuff.”

“I can’t believe they won’t do something about it just because of certain restrictions they have,” Burton told KOIN 6 News.

Restriction is the key word when it comes to the Salem Planning Commission decision.

The way the lot is currently zoned, it should not be used for a commercial operation like renting rooms. But the city said the commission is not allowed to consider things like crime when deciding if they should approve a zone change.

Crime, said Salem Community Development Director Glenn Gross, “is just not one of the criteria in the zoning code they’re supposed to follow.”

He said neighbors should turn to the police for help.

“The police department is certainly the responsible agency for crime in the city of Salem, so that is where they should take their concerns about crime to,” Gross said.

But residents in the neighborhood want the city to keep the property zoned as it is, which would make this kind of room-rental business illegal.

In May, they plan to go to the Salem City Council and ask them to override the planning commission’s decision.

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