The dilapidated Rodeo City Inn near Pendleton is really, finally, officially closed. Except for Drew Osias, the inn's former manager, and a couple of cats, the place is empty.
Osias was there Friday afternoon. He said he is the only one staying at the 52-room former hotel at 74149 Barnhart Road, a few miles outside Pendleton. His wife and daughter stay in town most of the time, he said.
Discarded shoes, chairs, rugs, refuse and whatnot of former occupants outline the inn. Numerous rooms are missing windows, ducts for air conditioners gape open, doors stand ajar. Dust and grime even cover Osias's electric blue Chrysler PT Cruiser.
"I keep an eye on it," Osias said from the front seat of his vehicle.
The Umatilla County Sheriff's Office began pushing two years ago to shut down the inn as a crime-ridden property. But the deal that put the final kibosh on the place came in late January, after a handful of occupants sued to force Osias to provide basic services, including running water. Umatilla County Circuit Court records show the occupants and management came to a deal.
The details of that deal, though, were not in public records. Will Perkinson, the Pendleton attorney who represented Osias in the lawsuit, said he could not reveal specifics of the agreement.
Whatever treaty they reached, the Rodeo City Inn shut down at midnight Jan. 28, the dozen or so occupants who squatted there are gone, and the court dismissed the lawsuit.
Denise Jerome is the housing solutions manager for Community Action Program of East Central Oregon, the regional agency dedicated to helping people get back on their feet. She said Monday her office has only two cases going for former occupants.
CAPECO and Legal Aid Services of Oregon met with residents of the inn last November, she said, and asked people to sign up for help, including to attend a "better renter" workshop, which teaches renters how to talk about difficult situations or history with landlords. No one showed for that, she said.
Umatilla County Sheriff Terry Rowan said deputies did not force out anyone when the inn closed, and under the agreement would only do so if there was a court-ordered eviction.
Rowan said a couple of weeks ago there were a few people lingering at the inn, and deputies have responded to calls for service, but the volume of the calls to the inn has dropped. And the sheriff's office has not noticed an uptick of crime elsewhere from former occupants of the inn. But, Rowan said, that would be hard to measure.
Pendleton police Chief Stuart Roberts also said that tracking would be difficult. While some people lived at the inn, others used it as a flop house. Roberts said Pendleton landlords who are concerned about who they rent to can talk to community services officer Ryan Lehnert, who heads up the city's Apartment Watch, a program that includes police checking in with landlords and property managers about calls for service.
Osias said the inn is for sale, but he did not comment on the rumor that a major hotel chain is interested in buying it. County records show no one has bought the inn from the holding company Rodeo City Realty.
Contact Phil Wright at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-966-0833.
This story originally appeared in East Oregonian.