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Phone: 503-823-7300


1900 SW 4th Ave, Portland, OR 97201

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Residential Demolitions - Overview and Criteria


When an application for a permit to demolish a residential primary structure in an area with a residential Comprehensive Plan Map designation has been submitted to the Bureau of Development Services, the permit applicant must follow the process described in Portland City Code Chapter 24.55 to provide notice of the demolition. All such residential demolitions are subject to a mandatory 35-day delay period and may be subject to an additional 60-day delay if a successful appeal of the demolition permit is filed, unless one of the exceptions listed below applies. When Demolition Delay applies, the proposed demolition work cannot begin until after the waiting period has lapsed. Please note that separate demolition delay processes and requirements apply to historic structures that are subject to the Zoning Code sections 33.445.800 – 33.445.810 and 33.846.080. These requirements are in addition to the Demolition Delay provisions of section 24.55.200. For information on obtaining a residential demolition permit, please see the Residential Demolitions Permits webpage.

Definition of a Demolition 24.55.150

  • Demolition. Demolition means removal of the entire superstructure down to the subflooring, such that none of the existing superstructure is maintained. Demolition includes removal of all exterior walls. It also includes alteration, abandonment or removal of all of the existing perimeter foundation.
  • Subflooring. Subflooring means the bottom-most structural floor laid as a base for a finished floor.
  • Superstructure. Superstructure means the part of the building or construction entirely above its foundation or basement.

See the Demolition Informational Guide for illustrations and examples of how to determine whether the proposed work qualifies as a Demolition.  

Demolition Delay Exceptions

Although the mandatory 35-day demolition delay period is required for most residential demolitions, there are some notable exceptions. Staff in the Development Services Center review each application for multiple criteria to see if Demolition Delay applies. Some common instances where the Demolition Delay is NOT required include:

  1. When the demolition is for any building in a commercial zone;
  2. If an applicant decides to move the structure instead of demolishing it. The demolition delay period is automatically terminated when a building permit to move the residential primary structure onto a different lot AND a building permit to relocate it are issued;
  3. If the demolition is for any accessory structures (such as garages and sheds);
  4. If the residential dwelling is a historic or conservation landmark, or if it is located in a historic resource overlay zone. Separate demolition delay process and requirements apply to these projects. See Zoning Code sections 33.445.800 – 33.445.810 and 33.846.080; and 
  5. If the structure is a public hazard, nuisance or liability and is subject to a demolition order from the City or an enforcement proceeding for demolition and is stipulated by the owner as a dangerous building.

Demolition Notification

When Demolition Delay applies, BDS and the permit applicant must perform the following notifications:

  • Mailed notice. Within five days of receipt of a complete application for a residential demolition permit, the Bureau of Development Services will mail written notice of the demolition request to all properties within 150 feet of the site to be demolished, to the recognized organization(s) whose boundaries include the site, to the Architectural Heritage Center and to Restore Oregon.
  • Posted notice. Five full days before demolition activity commences, the applicant must post door hangers provided by the Bureau of Development Services on the properties abutting and across the street from the site of the demolition. See Figure below.

Extension of the Initial Demolition Delay Period

Any person may request an extension of the demolition delay period for up to an additional 60 days by filing an appeal of the issuance of the demolition permit in writing on forms provided by the Bureau of Development Services by 4:30 p.m. on the last day of the initial 35-day notice and delay period. The appeal application must include all of the following:

  1. An appeal fee or fee waiver (only a Recognized Organization whose boundaries include the site are eligible for a fee waiver);
  2. An appeal form
  3. A copy of a letter sent to the property owner requesting a meeting to discuss alternatives to demolition (View sample letter), along with a return receipt from the Post Office indicating the letter was sent registered or certified mail;
  4. A statement indicating why the structure is significant to the neighborhood;
  5. A plan to save the structure; and
  6. Evidence the appellant has a reasonable potential to consummate the plan within 95 days of the date the Bureau accepted the complete permit application, including a pro-forma budget  and other evidence of funds on hand or a fund raising plan sufficient to meet the financial requirements of the budget.

Certification Regarding Asbestos and Lead-Based Paint 

All applicants for residential demolitions subject to the Residential Demolition Delay Ordinance (Portland City Code Section 24.55.200) must complete a Certification Regarding Asbestos and Lead-Based Paint certifying that they have had the area of disturbance tested and if the area contains asbestos or lead-based paint, the area will be remediated prior to work commencing.

Owner Intent to Demolish Form

The owner of the property must sign a Property Owner’s Intent to Demolish Acknowledgement Statement as a formal acknowledgement that they are aware of the primary uses permitted under current zoning on the site.