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Media Advisory: Neighborhood Concerns about Demolitions

City of Portland, Bureau of Development Services

MEDIA ADVISORY

May 6, 2014

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:  Ross Caron, Bureau of Development Services 503.823.4268

Along with most types of construction activity in Portland, the demolition of single family homes, and the subsequent redevelopment of those properties, has increased with the economic recovery. The Bureau of Development Services (BDS) is responsible for administration of the City’s regulations that apply to construction on private property and demolition of residential structures. 
 
In several neighborhoods, demolitions of residential structures have generated concerns when no notification is provided to abutting residences prior to commencement of work. In response to these concerns, and after evaluating the existing demolition delay and notification requirements in the City Code Title 24, BDS is now interpreting this Code provision to require delay and notification of the demolition if a single family residential structure is to be replaced with something other than one single family residence. This interpretation became effective on April 30, 2014. More information can be found in the BDS Service Level Update on this change.
 
“Listening to everyone and making necessary changes to address reasonable concerns has always been a priority for me,” stated the Commissioner in charge of the bureau, Amanda Fritz. “This is an example of the importance of carefully considering new information and acting to address inconsistencies.” BDS Director Paul L. Scarlett added, “BDS is also working with industry partners to put in place a new courtesy notification process when there currently isn’t a required notification. The new process will encourage contractors to reach out to neighbors to inform them of upcoming demolitions, so that neighbors can take precautions such as closing windows and moving vehicles to avoid dust.” 
 
The courtesy notification process under consideration by BDS and its Development Review Advisory Committee (DRAC) would apply to situations where a demolition permit is accompanied by an application for a single family residence and is therefore exempt from delay and notification requirements. If the new notification process is recommended by DRAC, BDS will provide contractors information to notify neighbors in these situations and encourage them to use it. The Bureau hopes to have this additional demolition notification process in place by summer 2014. 
 
The increase in construction activity throughout Portland has come with some increased impacts. The Bureau is making changes where reasonably possible, within the context of the existing City Code requirements, to address these impacts. Additional discussions on ways to protect neighborhood character while supporting infill development will likely happen in the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability’s process to update the Comprehensive Plan.
 
Questions or comments? Please contact, Ross Caron, BDS Public Information Officer at ross.caron@portlandoregon.gov or 503.823.4268.