WEDNESDAY, MARCH 6, 2013 – Portland’s City Council today 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.
InPortland’s nationally recognized historic districts, most exterior work on buildings, as well as all new construction, is subject to design review. Both property owners and historic preservation advocates have complained that the process is long, costly and burdensome, and may hurt the cause of historic preservation that the review is intended to ensure.
The City Council last summer commissioned the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability to convene the Historic Resources Code Improvement project to address these issues.
The bureau developed the new code in collaboration with the Bureau of Development Services, which will enforce the new regulations. They spent eight months working with residents of historic and conservation districts, members of the historic preservation community and contractors who work on historic homes.
“I would like to thank Commissioner Saltzman for his leadership on this important project,” acknowledged Mayor Charlie Hales at the public hearing for the project. “This is a great example of two bureaus working together to address community concerns. The whole process has been thoughtful, collaborative and swift.”
The project shows how the city can make relatively small fixes to the zoning code in a timely manner to address evolving issues in the community.
“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, a group that represents Portland’s historic and conservation districts and preservation professions from across the city.