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Portland City Council Adopts Historic Resources Code Amendments

Historic resources code amendments approved by Council

On March 6, 2013 Portland’s City Council unanimously voted to adopt code amendments that will improve the City’s historic review process and create a quicker, easier-to-understand and more predictable review process for minor home improvement projects in historic and conservation districts. The code amendments go into effect on May 1, 2013.

Read the adopted Historic Resources Code Amendments

In Portland’s nationally recognized historic districts most exterior work on buildings, as well as all new construction, is subject to review. Both property owners and historic preservation advocates have complained that the process is long, costly and burdensome — and may even hurt the cause of historic preservation that the review is intended to ensure. The Bureau of Planning and Sustainability developed a new code to address these issues in collaboration with the Bureau of Development Services (BDS), which will enforce the new regulations.

Community members and representatives of the Historic Landmarks (HLC) and Planning and Sustainability (PSC) Commissions expressed support for the amendment package.

“The project team went in and — with ‘surgical precision’ — made the necessary fixes to the City’s regulations around historic resources,” said Paul Falsetto, chair of the Portland Coalition for Historic Resources (PCHR) , a group that represents the city’s historic and conservation districts and preservation professions from across the city.

Carrie Richter, HLC chair, noted that the project "… represents the most feasible way to quickly address stakeholder concerns with respect to historic design review. This project could not address all code concerns and shortcomings. But with an eight-month process and no real budget, we understand that the Historic Resources Code Improvement project cannot serve as a complete overhaul of the code."

Along with the recommended code amendments, the PSC requested the creation of user-friendly handouts to make historic regulations understandable to the general public, and an evaluation in one year of how successful the code amendments are in achieving the project goals. BDS has proposed a fee of $475 for the new review procedure. Council will hear testimony on the fee proposal on March 20, 2013, at 9:30 a.m. (time certain). Contact Rebecca Esau at rebecca.esau@portlandoregon.gov for more information on the fee proposal. Submit testimony at the hearing or via:

Email: karla.moore-love@portlandoregon.gov
Fax: (503) 823-4571 (attn: Council Clerk)
Mail:1221 SW 4th Ave, Room 140, Portland, OR 97204

Recommended Historic Resources Code Amendments Now Available

With the Planning and Sustainability Commission’s recommendation, the Historic Resource Code Improvement Project moves on to City Council.

The recommended code amendments will be considered by City Council at a public hearing on Feb. 27, 2013, at 9:30 a.m. in City Hall (1221 SW 4th Ave). Your comments are appreciated in person or via:

Email: karla.moore-love@portlandoregon.gov
Fax: (503) 823-4571 (attn Council Clerk)
Mail: 1221 SW 4th Ave, Room 140, Portland, OR 97204.

Read the Recommended Historic Resources Code Amendments
http://www.portlandoregon.gov/bps/article/433949

The goal of the Historic Resources Code Improvement Project is to streamline the regulatory process around historic resource review. The project team has been looking at ways to create a quicker, easier-to-understand and more predictable review process for projects with minor impacts on historic resources, as well as clarifying code definitions and other code clean-up measures.

On Jan. 22, 2013, the Planning and Sustainability Commission held a public hearing to consider the Proposed Historic Resources Code Improvement Project Zoning Code Amendments and voted to forward a package of recommended Zoning Code Amendments to City Council.

What happens next?

The code amendments will be effective 37 days after the final City Council hearing. The code amendments may also allow the Bureau of Development Services to reduce historic review fees for smaller projects in the near future.

For more information about the project and how to get involved, please visit the project website at www.portlandoregon.gov/bps/58976 or call (503) 823-5869.

Planning and Sustainability Commission Makes Recommendation to City Council: Adopt Historic Resources Code Amendment Package

Making it easier for homeowners to make minor home improvements in the City’s historic and conservation districts.

At a public hearing on Jan. 22, 2013, the Planning and Sustainability Commission reviewed code amendments that will make it easier for homeowners to make minor home improvements in the City’s historic and conservation districts.

Staff gave an overview of the project and answered several clarifying questions from commissioners. After testimony from 14 people, the commission voted to forward the package of Zoning Code Amendments from the January 7 report. Included in that recommendation were seven additional staff-recommended amendments and three specific requests to City Council in response to testimony, including: 

  1. Encourage the Bureau of Development Services to promptly create a user friendly handout explaining how historic resources are regulated. This is in response to repeated concerns that the regulations are too complex for the general public to understand.
  2. Clearly state when and by how much any potential fee reductions could be implemented. This was a common theme for all testifiers.
  3. Direct the bureaus of Development Services and Planning and Sustainability to return to the Planning and Sustainability Commission after a year to evaluate the success of code amendments in achieving the project goals. 

City Council is expected to hold a hearing on the recommended Zoning Code Amendments on Feb. 27, 2013, at 9:30 a.m. The recommended report will be available the first week of February.

New and Improved Code Amendments Make It Easier to Remodel Homes in Historic and Conservation Districts

Public invited to comment at Planning and Sustainability Commission hearing

After several months of talking with homeowners, builders and historic preservation advocates, the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability is presenting revised code amendments designed to respond to the community’s desire for a more streamlined process and lower fees when making modifications to homes in Historic and Conservation Districts. The code amendments are now available for review, and community members are invited to attend a public hearing when the Planning and Sustainability Commission considers the proposed changes on Jan. 22, 2013 at 6 p.m.

Read the Proposed Historic Resources Code Improvement Project Zoning Code Amendments

Event Details
Portland Planning and Sustainability Commission – Public Hearing
Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013, 6 p.m.
1900 SW 4th Avenue, 2nd Floor, Room 2500A

View the agenda: www.portlandoregon.gov/bps/psc
Detailed instructions on submitting testimony: http://www.portlandoregon.gov/bps/article/383906

How did we get here?
Staff kicked off the project in the summer of 2012 and released an Issues and Opportunities Paper in September to start the community conversation. The paper included information about issues and concerns related to Portland’s historic resource regulations and ideas for potential code changes. The conversation continued through the fall with City staff attending numerous meetings to discuss the project scope, identifying issues, and getting feedback on ideas for minor code amendments.

On Dec. 10, 2012, the Historic Landmarks Commission held a public hearing and responded to the draft code amendments in the Discussion Draft. At the hearing, the Commission listened to testimony from approximately 15 community members, who shared a variety of comments ranging from general support for the amendment package to concerns about relaxing the review process for historic structures. The proposed zoning code amendments respond to that feedback.

Historic Landmarks Commission Holds Public Hearing on Proposed Code Amendments for Historic and Conservation Districts

Public hearing recap

On Dec. 10, 2012, the Historic Landmarks Commission weighed in on proposed code amendments in the Historic Resources Code Improvement Project Discussion Draft. At the public hearing, the Commission listened to testimony from approximately 15 community members, who shared a variety of comments ranging from general support for the amendment package to concerns about relaxing the review process for historic structures. Listen to the audio recording and view the presentation to learn more.

Staff will continue to meet with stakeholders and commission members to revise the proposal. The next draft of code amendments is scheduled to be released on Jan. 7, 2013, with a hearing before the Planning and Sustainability Commission tentatively scheduled for Jan. 22 in the evening.

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