Damascus City-Wide Neighborhood Watch Informational Meeting

Tuesday, October 15, 2019 – 7 PM – Sunnyside Community Church

The City of Damascus, in conjunction with the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office, will host a city-wide meeting regarding the Neighborhood Watch program.

National Neighborhood Watch began in 1972 with funding in part by the National Sheriffs’ Association, through a grant from the Bureau of Justice Assistance, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice.

Our nation is built on the strength of our citizens. Every day, we encounter situations calling upon us to be the eyes and ears of law enforcement. Not only does neighborhood watch allow citizens to help in the fight against crime, it is also an opportunity for communities to bond through service. The Neighborhood Watch Program draws upon the compassion of average citizens, asking them to lend their neighbors a hand. The National Neighborhood Watch Program (formerly USAonWatch) is the portal for training to assist law enforcement agencies and their communities, technical assistance, resource documents, watch stories, networking, and assistance to the field.

Since 1972, the National Neighborhood Watch Program (housed within the National Sheriffs’ Association) has worked to unite law enforcement agencies, private organizations, and individual citizens in a nation-wide effort to reduce crime and improve local communities. The success of the program has established Neighborhood Watch as the nation’s premier crime prevention and community mobilization program. Visible signs of the program are seen throughout America on street signs, window decals, community block parties and service projects.

The National Neighborhood Watch program empowers citizens to become active in community efforts through participation in Neighborhood Watch groups.

Officer Sara McClurg will be providing literature and information about this powerful way for Damascus and its citizens to protect ourselves and our neighbors.

Vandals and Thieves and Transients, Oh My!

Halloween is nearing, and as we think of costumes, decorations, and the arrival of Trick or Treaters at our doors, we also know that this time of year brings out vandals and thieves. Add that to the concern in Damascus over the increasing number of homeless people, and what should be a time of fun and laughter can end up with a bashed in mail box, a vehicle missing a battery or sound system, broken windows, finding a transient sleeping in your shed, or tipped over headstones at the Damascus Pioneer Cemetery.

Throughout October, the theme of our City of Damascus Coffee with the Council gatherings (on Friday the 4th, 11th, and 25th and Saturday the 19th at 1 PM at the meeting area by Starbucks in the Damascus Safeway) will be “Vandals and Thieves and Transients, Oh My!” We will be providing proactive tips on preventing vandalism to our homes and vehicles, information about theft prevention and recovery of stolen items, and assistance and guidance on safely dealing with homeless people in our neighborhoods.

In conjunction with the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Department, we will also be hosting a city-wide Neighborhood Watch informational meeting. Details are being worked out, and the time and location will be announced soon.

Do you have concerns you would like to raise? Do you have a safe activity planned and open to children in your neighborhood or throughout the city that we can promote? Do you have solutions to offer that will help others?

Please join us for one or more of the City of Damascus Coffee with the Council sessions in October. And don’t be surprised if we provide a few cookies to dunk into your coffee.

The City of Damascus

How we BEGAN, were PRONOUNCED DEAD, and have been REVIVED

A Fact Sheet by James De Young, MayorAugust 2019

Damascus has a pioneer history that goes back to 1851 at the end of the Oregon trail.

Damascus signified a new beginning for the Apostle Paul as recorded in the Bible (Acts 9); and this led pioneer founder Ed Pedigo to suggest the name Damascus – a “new beginning” for them.

Metro imposed the Urban Growth Boundary on the Damascus area of about 10,000 acres and about 10,000 people (2002).

To preserve its heritage and determine its own character distinct from Gresham to the north or from Happy Valley to the west, the people of Damascus voted to incorporate the City (2004).

Mayors have been Dee Wescott, Jim Wright, Steve Spinnett, Diana Helm, and James De Young.

Very restrictive amendments to our charter such as voter approval of the Comprehensive Plan, prohibition of system development charges and franchise fees, and spending limits, have hamstrung the City.

Early on, many to the east wanted to keep Damascus rural and many to the west wanted to develop their property like Happy Valley.

Voters rejected all Comprehensive Plans, even though they are an absolute requirement for all new cities.

Disenchantment with the lack of progress and division led people to vote for disincorporation in 2013 or to skirt the charter regulations for de-annexations in 2014. The Appellate Court declared all such actions to be illegal or unconstitutional.

The Oregon Legislature devised special laws in 2015 (HB 3084, 3085, 3086) for Damascus, and required the City to vote on disincorporation in the May 2016 primary as Measure 93. This passed by a simple majority but fell short by over 600 votes of the super majority required by law.  People assumed the City was dead.

Then-Councilor De Young filed legal action to challenge the vote as violating Oregon statutes, the State Constitution, and the City Charter. After three years the Appellate Court ruled that De Young “should prevail as a matter of law” (May 1,2019).

This decision nullified the vote of 2016. The City continued to exist. The Council never surrendered its Charter. The Councilors never lost their offices. According to the City Charter, Councilors continue in office until their successors are voted in, unless they choose not to be a Councilor or move out of the City.

During its three-year hiatus, the City lost to the County $8 million, property, vehicles, and documents. Happy Valley also annexed 1400 acres of City property.

Beginning in May 2019, the Council began restoring City government; they appointed people to fill vacancies, they appointed a Mayor (De Young) and City Manager, they held a half dozen meetings where they completed a budget, passed several resolutions, and set a tax levy at 0.57 per $1000.

The City is currently pursuing restitution and reconciliation with the County, the State, Metro, and Happy Valley; and is appealing the latest law directed against Damascus (8-14-19).