Frequently Asked Questions

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Accommodations for Individuals with Disabilities 
Q. Does the City provide accommodations for individuals with disabilities?
A. Yes.
  • Meetings.  Meetings are accessible to the disabled. An interpreter for the hearing impaired may be requested under the terms of ORS 192.630 by contacting the City Manager's Office at 503-325-5824. In addition, the City provides assistive hearing devices for use during meetings.
  • Telephone Accessibility.  The Oregon Telecommunications Relay service (TRS) provides full telephone accessibility to deaf, hard of hearing or speech-impaired persons.  To access OTRS, call the voice number from a TTY or 711 from a voice phone. 

Planning Department

Q. How do I know if a building is "historic?"
A. Look for the heading "Classification" on the building's inventory form. A building will be classified under one of five titles: Primary, Secondary, Historic Non-Contributing, Compatible and Non-Compatible. Only those buildings listed as Primary or Secondary are considered historic at this time.
Q. What do those classifications mean?
A. Primary: Constructed during the primary period of development of that neighborhood or district and retains significant historic fabric and integrity and still reflects that historic period.
Secondary: Constructed during the secondary period of development of that neighborhood or district and retains significant historic fabric and integrity and still reflects that historic period.
Historic Non-Contributing: Constructed during the primary or secondary period of development of that neighborhood or district but does not presently retain sufficient historic fabric or integrity.
Compatible: Constructed after the secondary period of development and is compatible in style with buildings constructed during the historic periods.
Non-Compatible: Constructed after the secondary period of development and is not compatible in style with buildings constructed during the historic periods.
Please note that the historic periods of development vary from one neighborhood or district to another. A definition of those periods of development can be found in the Historic Context Statement of each neighborhood.
Q. Are there any other designations for historic buildings?
A. Yes, a building might be individually listed as a Local Landmark, National Register or National Landmark. Both National Register and National Landmark buildings start their designation process locally, but are reviewed at the State and Federal level.
Q. What is the local process for designating a building historic?
A. There are two ways to designate a building. One, a property owner applies for that designation through the City of Astoria’s Community Development Department. The application is reviewed by the City’s Historic Landmarks Commission at one of their regular meetings. The Historic Landmarks Commission bases their decision on criteria listed below.
Two, the City designates a property after completing a comprehensive neighborhood inventory. During this inventory, a historic building consultant reviews the architectural character of a building, its individual history and alterations which may have occurred to the building exterior. The consultant and members of the Historic Landmarks Commission review the building according to criteria listed below.
Property owners are then mailed completed inventory forms. At that time, they are invited to an informational meeting and a public hearing. Property owners have an opportunity to comment at both meetings. Formal designation is made following the public hearing. During this process, is the opportunity for individual property owners have the opportunity to opt-out of the historic designation.
Q. What criteria are used to establish the historic designation?
A. There are four basic criteria for determining whether or not a building is historic: architectural significance, integrity, setting and history.
Architectural significance deals with style, rarity of type, craftsmanship and materials and the architect, designer or builder.
Integrity looks at how much original fabric remains and whether alterations are compatible.
Setting refers to how well the building fits into the neighborhood and streetscape and whether there are early plantings on the site.
History deals with the significance of the owners or occupants, whether the building represents any significant trends or if the building is associated with an important event.
Q. Do property owners have a choice whether or not their building is listed as historic?
A. At the conclusion of the inventory, all affected property owners are invited to attend a public hearing before the Historic Landmarks Commission. Individual property owners may object and opt out at that time. If no objections are filed with the Community Development Department, the historic designation becomes final when the Historic Landmarks Commission votes to accept the inventory as presented.
Q. What protections or restrictions are placed on historic buildings?
A. Protections include the review of new construction adjacent to historic buildings. The Historic Landmarks Commission reviews new construction to ensure compatibility in scale, style, height, materials, architectural detail, and orientation with the adjacent historic building and neighborhood.
Restrictions are placed on the exterior alteration of historic buildings. Exterior alterations are reviewed by the Historic Landmarks Commission. Alterations include attaching decks or porches, replacing siding with different type or material, replacing windows with different materials or styles, removing historic ornamentation, changing rooflines, constructing an addition, etc. All exterior alterations are reviewed by the Historic Landmarks Commission. Interior alterations are not reviewed by the City. Certain exterior alterations that are to replace missing historic features or are to repair the structure based on historic photographs of the house may be approved administratively.
Routine maintenance is not reviewed. Routine maintenance includes cleaning, landscaping and minor repairs. In addition, exterior paint colors are not reviewed. Property owners are not required to paint their buildings in historic colors. However, the City will offer assistance in selecting colors if requested by the property owner.
Q. What other assistance is provided?
A. The City offers the historic building owner limited design consultation by the City’s trained staff. This consultation may include reviewing the history and stylistic characteristics of the building, suggestions on how to blend the alterations with the building’s historic character, and advice on how to navigate an application through the Historic Landmarks Commission.
Q. Are financial incentives available?
A. Locally, there is one incentive. The Bank of Astoria, in partnership with the City of Astoria, offers a low interest loan for facade improvement of downtown and some Uppertown buildings - regardless of whether or not they are historic. The loan may be approved up to $25,000.
Financial incentives are also available through the State and Federal Government for buildings individually listed on the National Register of Historic Places or landmarks within a National Register Historic District.
The State Historic Preservation Office offers “Special Assessment” -- a freeze on the assessed value of a building for 15 years. Applicants must prepare and commit to restoration and improvement plans of their building. All plans and alterations to both the exterior and interior must be approved by the State before work is commenced. For more information call the State Historic Preservation Office at 503-378-4168. The State Historic Preservation Office website is at http://prd.state.or.us/.
The US Department of the Interior offers a 20% Federal tax credit for rehabilitation performed on income-producing buildings (apartments, bed & breakfast, commercial, etc.). Again, all
work on both the exterior and interior must by approved before work is commenced. In this case, both the State and Federal Government review the planned restoration and renovation.
Also, the National Trust for Historic Preservation has a tax credit fund established jointly with Bank of America. Contact the National Trust for Historic Preservation for more information. The National Trust for Historic Preservation website is at http://www.ntph.org/.
Q. If my house is historic, do I have to open it to the public? Am I limited to what changes I can make to the interior?
A. There are no local requirements for open houses. If you choose to apply through the State for Special Assessment and your property is enrolled in that program (see above), you will be required to open parts of your home to the public once a year. Interior changes are reviewed by the State Historic Preservation Office only if a property is participating in the Special Assessment program. Under no circumstances does the Astoria Historic Landmarks Commission review interior changes.
Q. Does the Clatsop County Historical Society have anything to do with the City of Astoria’s historic building program?
A. No, not directly. People often confuse the historical society with the Historic Landmarks Commission. The Clatsop County Historical Society has nothing to do with the review of local landmarks -- that’s the role of the Historic Landmarks Commission.
The Clatsop County Historical Society is a non-profit organization which maintains and operates three museums including the Capt. Flavel House, Heritage Center, and Firefighter’s Museum. They maintain historical records on the County’s families. They also have an impressive collection of historic photographs in their archives. These photographs are invaluable for guiding restoration of Astoria’s buildings.
Please call the Heritage Center at 503-325-2203 to make an appointment to explore the archives. Or, The Clatsop County Historical Society website is located at http://www.clatsophistoricalsociety.org/.
Q. Where can I get additional information about historic landmarks and historic preservation?
A. Call the City of Astoria Community Development Department at 503-338-5183, or write to us at 1095 Duane Street, Astoria OR 97103, or email at astamper@astoria.or.us.
Web Sites:
Lower Columbia Preservation Society 503-791-1236 (http://www.lcpsweb.org/)
Clatsop County Historical Society 503-325-2203 (http://www.cumtux.org/)
State Historic Preservation Office 503-986-0688 (http://www.prd.state.or.us/)
National Trust for Historic Preservation (http://www.ntph.org/)
The National Register of Historic Places (http://www.cr.nps.gov/)
(US Department of the Interior)
The Oregon Heritage Commission (http://www.oregonheritage.org/)
This Old House (www.thisoldhouse.com)
Old House Journal (www.oldhousejournal.com)

Police Department

Q. How do I get fingerprinted?
A. The Clatsop County Jail provides fingerprinting services. No appointment is necessary. The jail is located at 636 Duane Street in Astoria. For hours and a fee schedule, please contact the jail at 503-325-8641, or visit their website.
Q. The police department impounded my vehicle. How do I get my vehicle back?
A. A person named on the registration must come to the police department Mondays through Fridays, excluding holidays, between 9 am and 4 pm. That person must have a valid driver’s license, proof of current insurance and pay a $100 administrative fee in cash or check. The owner will be given a receipt from the police department, which must be taken to the tow company. The owner is required to pay the towing and storage fee to the tow company and the vehicle will be released. This information is also provided in the paperwork that was given to the driver at the time the vehicle was impounded.
Q. How do I obtain a copy of a police report?
A. Requests for copies of police reports and other public records held by the police department must be submitted in writing to the police records unit. Simply complete the Records Request form online, mail it or bring it to the police department for approval. The records unit is open Monday through Friday, excluding holidays from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm. Once the request is received, the record will be made available in a reasonable time or you will be told why it cannot be released. Normally, pending criminal case records and some juvenile records will not be released as a public record. You will be charged a fee for the record that must be paid prior to releasing the record. For more information contact the records unit at (503) 338-6433.
Q. How do I obtain a copy of a criminal history?
A. The Astoria Police Department cannot provide information about your criminal history or another person’s criminal history. A complete criminal history may be obtained through the Oregon State Police, #13 Portway Street. 503-325-5515. You can also visit the Public Records Unit on the State of Oregon website.
Q. What telephone number do I call to report a crime?
A. In an emergency, dial 9-1-1. To have an officer sent to your location when time allows or to call you about a non emergency, please call 503-325-4411.
Q. I have been in a traffic accident. Do I have to report it and where can I get the report form?
A. Traffic accidents involving death, injuries or property damage greater than $1500 must be reported on a special form to DMV. You may pick up a traffic accident form at your local DMV office, or at the police department. After completion, you may mail the form to DMV, deliver it to the local DMV office, or leave it with the police department and we will mail it to DMV for you. For more information please visit the Oregon DMV website.
Q. What is the difference between a restraining order and a stalking order and how do I obtain one?
A. A restraining order is issued by the State Circuit Court if you have been a victim of domestic abuse from an intimate partner, spouse, former spouse, parent of your minor child or relative related by blood. Applications for restraining orders can be obtained at the Clatsop County Courthouse, 749 Commercial Street, Astoria.

A criminal stalking order may be issued by a police officer if you are being followed, harassed, threatened or menaced repeatedly by an individual you can identify. Call 503-325-4411 for an officer to discuss criminal stalking orders. Civil stalking orders are issued by the Clatsop County Circuit Court for the same problems as a criminal stalking order. Visit the Clatsop County Court at 749 Commercial Street, Astoria, for information about civil stalking orders.

In most cases, restraining orders and stalking orders involve more complex matters. Additional information about both these legal processes can be obtained from the Women’s Resource Center, 503-325-3426.
Q. Can I call to check if I have a warrant?
A. Information regarding wanted people will not be given over the phone. You must come to the police department and ask in person.
Q. How do I obtain a concealed weapons permit?
A. Concealed weapon permits are obtained through the Clatsop County Sheriff’s Office, 503-325-8635.
Q. When is the next auction for surplus and unclaimed property?
A. The City of Astoria contracts with PropertyRoom.com, an online property liquidator, for disposal of surplus and unclaimed property. PropertyRoom.com handles property disposals for hundreds of Police and Sheriff Departments throughout the U.S. PropertyRoom.com is open to the public and you may bid on any item listed.
Q. Do you offer a citizen ride along program?
A. Yes. The Astoria Police Department offers citizens the opportunity to observe police officers at work. Citizens requesting a ride along must complete an application to Ride Along and return it to the police department. A background check will be completed and you will be contacted to arrange your ride along.
Q. What is the process for obtaining a Taxi drivers license?
A. Pick up a taxi drivers license application at the police department, complete the form and submit it along with a $50 cash non-refundable fee to the front office. A background check will be completed and upon approval, you will be notified to contact the Records Division to make an appointment for your taxi license to be printed.
Q. What do I do if I get a parking ticket?
A. Parking tickets may be paid at the Finance Department of City Hall, 1095 Duane Street, Astoria. 503-325-5821. If you wish to dispute a parking ticket you have received, you will need to contact Municipal at 503-325-3939 to arrange a court date to speak to the Judge.
Q. What do I do if I get a "fix-it" ticket?
A. Astoria Police Department does not issue "Fix-it" tickets. If another law enforcement agency issued you a "fix-it" ticket, you need to report back to that agency.
Q. Should I report suspicious activities in my neighborhood?
A. Yes! Please call 503-325-4411 to report anything you feel is suspicious. If there is an immediate threat of danger to life or property, or you witness a crime in progress, please call 9-1-1.
Q. How do I report problems with my neighbor's dog?
A.  The Astoria Police Department contracts with Clatsop County Animal Control for cases involving domesticated animals. For animal abuse, barking dogs or unleashed dogs please contact the Clatsop County Animal Control at 503-861-7387. If Animal Control is closed and the dog is barking, you may call the police department’s non-emergency line at 503-325-4411.
To report an injury to a wild animal, please call the Wildlife Rehab Center of the North Coast at 503-338-0331.
Q. I just installed a burglary alarm at my residence. Do I need an alarm permit?
A. Yes. All businesses and residential that have a security alarm system are required to obtain a free City Alarm Permit from the police department and there is a fee for failing to get a permit. Forms can be submitted on our website. Please call 503-338-6411 x 11 if you need additional information.
Q. How do I get back property that was seized by the police?
A. During a police investigation, officers may find it necessary to seize certain property items in your possession. If your property was seized, you must wait for an adjudication or court order authorizing the release of your property before you may claim it at the police department. If you have questions regarding the release of your property, please call 503-338-6411 ext. 13.
Q. What should I do if my property has been stolen?
A. If you are the victim of a burglary or other crime and your property was stolen, call 503-325-4411 to report the crime. If the items stolen include serial numbers, please provide that information to the officer and it will be entered into the Law Enforcement Data System, where all Law Enforcement Agencies can trace the serial number back to the owner if it is recovered in their jurisdiction. The Police Department will also put the stolen item in our "Hot Sheet" which is sent each month to businesses in the local area that deal in used goods.

It is important to record serial numbers and other identifying information for valuable property, since most of the retrieval systems require an identifying number. Making a record also simplifies getting stolen property back to the owner. For property that does not have a serial number, an engraver is available for loan at the Police Department.
Q. How does the Police Department's Lost & Found procedure work?
A. Lost property: If you have lost property within the city limits of Astoria, you may call 503-325-4411, the non-emergency police number, to report the loss of your property. A log entry will be made and a description of the lost property will be entered in the record. It is very helpful in the recovery of your property if you have retained a record of the serial number of the product. The Astoria Police Department sends a monthly Hot Sheet of stolen and lost property to local businesses that deal in second hand goods and your lost property is included.

If you have lost property and think we may have your property, call (503) 338-6411 ext 13 during business hours to describe your property in as much detail as possible.

Found Property: People frequently turn in property to the police department that they have found. If the owner does not claim the property within 90 days of being turned in, the department will send the property to PropertyRoom.com for auction, with the proceeds being deposited in the City general fund.

If the value of the property is more than $100 and you want to keep it, Oregon law 98.005 requires that you give notice to the County Clerk within 10 days of the finding and advertise your finding in a local newspaper once a week for two weeks within 20 days. If no one claims the property within three months, you may keep it.

If you need more information, please contact the evidence custodian at 503-338-6411 x 13 during business hours.

Public Works

Q. Who do I talk to about utility billing information?
A. For any questions regarding utility billing please call the Utilities Clerk at (503)338-5172.
Q. Is my house connected to City sewer and water?
A. You can find out if your house is connected to City sewer and/or water by calling Engineering Dept. at (503)338-5173 and providing your street address.
Q. Who is responsible for repair of the sewer line?
A. Property owners are responsible for their side sewer (the sewer that runs from the street or alley to the house), while the City is responsible for the main line sewer that runs down the center of the street or alley. A permit is required in order to do work on a side sewer. Property owners can perform their own work on any part of the sewer line that is on their property, but the portion located in the City right-of-way must be repaired by a contractor who is bonded to work in the right-of-way. For more information on repairing a side sewer or to obtain a permit to work on one, contact the Engineering Dept. at (503)338-5173.
Q. Who is responsible for repairing my sidewalk?
A. The sidewalk adjacent to a property is the property owner's responsibility. Contact the Engineering Dept. at (503)338-5173 for more information.
Q. Can I remove a tree in the right -of-way in front of my house? Do I need a permit?
A. Removal of trees located in the right-of-way must be approved by the City prior to removal. The Engineering Department coordinates the requests with a professional arborist to determine if the removal of the tree is the best action to take. This work does require a permit and must be performed by a contractor bonded to work in the City right-of-way. If a property owner is removing a tree on their private property, a permit is not required as long as the tree remains on private property during the course of it's removal. For more information, contact the Engineering Dept. at (503)338-5173.
Q. How do I find my property lines? Who do I talk to about a property line dispute?
A. The Engineering department can give you an approximate measurement from the curb to your front property line. To find your side property lines, a measurement can be obtained from the closest side street. This is an approximate measurement. Call The Engineering Dept. at (503)338-5173 for more information. The only way to find out exactly where the property lines are is to have a survey done. Property line disputes between neighbors are a civil matter in which the City is not involved. Property owners need to contact a private attorney to resolve disputes.
Q. What is a street vacation? How do I get a street vacation?
A. A street vacation is when an unused or unneeded street, alley or other public right-of-way becomes private property. The adjoining property owners can file a petition with the Engineering Department to consider vacating a street. After reviewing the request, a recommdation is submitted to the City Council for approval. For more information call Cindy at (503)338-5173.