Peeping Toms on official business

When I was looking up this year's property taxes on the Jackson County Front Counter Web site, I noticed that the Assessor's Office had posted pictures of our house, several of which had been taken in our fenced-in yard. No one ever asked us if they could go into our yard to do this. In fact, I can see in one of the pictures that my car is in the driveway. I must have been home at the time. I then checked listings for several of my family members and found that the assessor had also gone into their fenced-in backyards to take photographs. Neither of them was aware that the pictures had been taken. Does the Assessor's Office in fact have special dispensation to go onto people's property without permission to take pictures and post them on the Internet?

— Cathy D., Central Point

Jackson County Assessor Dan Ross said there are times when his staff will go through a fence to take pictures unless there is a "No Trespassing" sign.

"We always knock on the front door," he said. "We always leave a note on the front door." Ross said his staff tries to be non-intrusive and doesn't peek through windows.

Sometimes the Assessor's Office will examine the house as part of the reappraisal process to see if there has been remodeling or new construction. Ross said his office doesn't have the time to call every property owner in the county to make an appointment before visiting.

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