City sues homeowner in attempt to force cleanup

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. - Neighbors describe Richard Gaff as a political man who doesn't like to conform.

The city says Gaff's property is a mess - and the county wants back taxes paid in full.

A reporter tried to get in touch with Gaff on Monday about the City of Springfield's lawsuit seeking a court order to make him clean up his Main Street property. He didn't respond.

City officials said Gaff's blue house on Main Street has become more than just an eyesore for those trying to improve the street's image.

"Not your typical 'you worked in the house and it's there for a couple days and someone picks it up.' This is long term garbage that is sitting there," said Niel Laudati with the City of Springfield.

Laudati said the city has received over 10 complaints and cited Gaff 31 times for the garbage on his property.

Now the city has filed a lawsuit alleging the property is being used like a junkyard.

"I've really noticed that a lot of the local businesses are really trying to make an effort to try and clean it up and make it a more liveable friendly place for the community," said Kelly Neal, owner of Springfield Spas down the street from Gaff's home. "It's kind of sad the mentality that you get that some people just don't want to change."

Neighbors said Gaff made an effort recently to clean up, moving the old cars and garbage that for years filled the front yard behind a locked fence.

But with no electricity or running water, the city said the home is unliveable.

"Typically if someone is having a financial issue maybe, something that is leaving them to have a home in disrepair, we have several programs to assist them," Laudati said. "Our goal is to keep them in the house."

Laudati said Gaff never accepted any help, and the home is in such disrepair the City no longer has anything to offer him.