Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the difference between the City Courthouse and the County Courthouse?

The Municipal Court is the judicial branch of City government. The City of Pendleton's Municipal Court processes City ordinance violations, State statute violations, and traffic violations generated by the City's Police Department. For more information call (541) 966-0209.
The County Courthouse deals with issues related to Umatilla County. For more information call (541)276-7111.

What about permits from the Planning Department such as conditional uses and variances?

This information can be found on this website under City Departments-->Community Development-->Planning Department.

What is Zoning?

Zoning is designed to protect the health and safety of a community as well as to protect property values. Zoning allows people to know what they can build or do, and what they can expect to be built or done next door. Very few people would like to have a rendering plant located next to their apartment building or a guy working on cars 24/7 in his back yard. Zoning provides a reasonable assurance that incompatible uses will not be located in close proximity to one another, while also ensuring that each of those uses is allowed somewhere.

Zoning implements a community’s vision for the future. Zoning is a local activity and is responsive to local needs. Citizen input is sought through the seven community members who serve on the Planning Commission and the nine citizens who serve as Mayor and City Council. In order to allow the community the opportunity to testify on discretionary matters concerning land use issues, the City pays to publish legal notices in the East Oregonian on all land use matters to be heard by the Planning Commission and City Council. City staff also works to involve community members when changes to local codes are considered.

Building inspections and zoning help maintain property values as well as make our community a safe place in which to live.

Do I need a Building Permit?

A building permit is required for all buildings greater than 200 sq. ft. For residential, a building permit is not required for buildings less than 200 sq. ft. and not attached to another building. For commercial, a building permit is not required for buildings less than 120 sq. ft. and not attached to another building. These buildings must meet all setback requirements.

For more information call the Building Department at 541 966-0205.

Why do I need a building permit?

Many people ask why they need a building permit. They contend they own their property and should be able to do with it as they please. The main reason for a building permit is to make sure the building is safe, and recently the safety portion has converged with energy efficient building. A building, especially a home, is expected to last at least 100 years. The builder, contractor, or owner will not be around forever. The property will change hands, and it is a social responsibility to make sure the building is built in a safe manner for future owners. For example, an older couple may not be concerned about the space between the posts on a railing but for a family with small kids this is very important. Then, of course, we want to make sure the rafters will stay up for 100 years!

Lenders also want to be sure that both the original construction and any improvements made over the years meet certain standards. Banks don’t want to lend money to purchase property that does not meet minimum standards for health and safety, not to mention longevity. Would you lend someone money to buy a house without any assurance that it was built well?

A home that is built “to code,” or better, will last a long time and will use a lot less energy over its lifetime. It should also require less maintenance in both the short and the long run. A house that is well-built, to code, is worth more than one that isn’t.

The City of Pendleton charges for building permits based on State of Oregon standard rates. A home with a construction value of $200,000 would have an approximate total building permit and plan review fee of $1,800.  This includes the charges for the heating and cooling systems inspections, electrical inspections that are done by the State and the plumbing inspections done by a firm hired by the City, and surcharges imposed by the State to operate the State building codes division.

Do I need a business license? If so, why do I need one and how much do they cost?

Business licenses are required for anyone wishing to do business in Pendleton. In 2008, 1,099 licenses were issued, 232 of which were issued to businesses located outside city limits. Basic fees are currently $100 for businesses inside city limits and $160 for those outside. Of the funds received from the basic licenses, 75% goes to the Pendleton Economic Development Committee to fund the full time Economic Development Director position, and 25% goes to the Pendleton Convention Center.

An extra fee of $20 per employee is charged to businesses with over 5 employees. This is up to a maximum of $1,000 per business. This generates approximately $40,000 annually with one half of this going to the Convention Center and the other one half to the City.

 About $140,000/year is received in regular business license fees, with the employee fee adding about $40,000 in total annually, for a total of $180,000 per year.

The business license is not a regulatory device and no background checks are done on applicants, except that contractors must add their contractor's license number to the application. The business license requirement does provide residents a measure of protection however. It gives the City information that can be followed up by the police department if illegal activity takes place. If a person comes to a resident's door trying to sell something, the resident should ask to see the business license before purchasing.  Most people trying to work a scam will not take the time or trouble of registering with the city and asking to see their license may save the resident from paying for goods or services that the ‘salesperson’ never intended to render.

Could you explain the Hotel/Motel Tax and the Transient Room Tax?

Lodging taxes are imposed differently from one jurisdiction to another. In Pendleton 8% of the rate is charged to folks renting a motel/hotel room or an RV parking space. This is the TRT.  Of the funds collected each quarter by the properties, city ordinance dictates that 14% goes to the Chamber specifically to promote and market Pendleton, 48% goes to the convention center, and 35% stays in the city’s general fund. The remaining 1.75% is set aside to fund public art projects and that portion amounts to about $11,000 per year.  Hotels keep 7% of the funds they collect as payment for the time and effort to collect and report the TRT.  Total receipts anticipated this year are $785,000.

The TPA is a separate item on invoices and is $1.50 per rented room night and fifty-cents per RV parking space rented per night. If a guest stays over 30 days, the assessment is discontinued. Sixty percent of the total collected is sent to the Chamber who is the fiscal agent for the Tourism Promotion Assessment Commission. That body has its own Board of Directors and has hired its Tourism Promotion Director, who is housed in the Chamber office, and the organization is known as “Travel Pendleton.”  The remaining 40% of the TPA funds go to the convention center for capital improvements.  $200,000 is expected to be collected this year from the TPA.

The total anticipated revenue for 2009 for both TPA and TRT is $985,000. These funds are returned to the community through tourism promotion activities (advertising, marketing, publications, recruiting and hosting conventions, conferences, meetings, and sporting events) and by keeping the Visitor Center an effective ‘front door’ for Pendleton. These programs encourage more people to visit Pendleton, and stay a little longer.

Can the City Attorney answer my legal questions?

No. The City Attorney represents city government and cannot provide legal advice to individuals.  There are links to helpful legal sites on the Legal Links page of the City Attorney's part of this web site.

When are City Council Meetings held?

City Council Meetings are held every first and third Tuesday at the City Hall Council Chambers. They are at 7:00 pm and are open to the public.

Do I need a license for my dog?

Yes. All dogs need to be licensed unless owned by a dealer or breeder, a guide dog, a dog for herding of livestock, or a dog less than 6 months old.

When does the Aquatic Center open?

The Pendleton Family Aquatic Center typically opens the day Pendleton schools are released for the summer and closes the Monday of Labor Day weekend. The hours of operation are noon-8pm daily.