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The City of Portland, Oregon

Development Services

From Concept to Construction

Phone: 503-823-7300

Email: bds@portlandoregon.gov

1900 SW 4th Ave, Portland, OR 97201

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URM Placarding and Tenant Notification Ordinance

To reduce the risk posed by unreinforced masonry (URM) buildings, Portland City Council passed an ordinance requiring owners of URM buildings to notify tenants and visitors that the structure is a URM. The ordinance was passed on October 10, 2018. 

Placarding and Tenant Notification Requirements

The ordinance requires that:

  • A placard be posted on all URM buildings that reads: “This is an Unreinforced Masonry Building. Unreinforced Masonry Buildings may be unsafe in an event of a Major Earthquake.
  • The building owner must notify existing tenants that the building is an unreinforced masonry building, and unreinforced masonry buildings may be unsafe in the event of a major earthquake
  • In addition to a placard, every lease or rental agreement entered into or renewed after the timeline for placarding noted below, must contain a statement that: “This Building is an Unreinforced Masonry Building. Unreinforced Masonry Buildings may be unsafe in an event of a Major Earthquake”
  • Building owners must record an agreement not to remove the placard and acknowledgment of compliance with tenant notification requirements
  • The ordinance requires URM owners to post a placard according to the following timeline: 

     - Publicly-owned buildings: On or before January 1,2019
     - Non-profit buildings: On or before November 1, 2020
     - All other buildings: On or before March 1, 2019

The URM placard must:

  • Be at least 8”x10” inches
  • Have lettering in at least 50-point bold font
  • Be posted in a conspicuous location on the exterior at the main entrance with the following language: “This is an Unreinforced Masonry Building. Unreinforced Masonry Buildings may be unsafe in an event of a Major Earthquake.” 

It is not required to post the placard in languages other than English, but if your building serves people are not fluent in English, it's recommended to post the information in those additional languages. 

The placard should meet Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Sign Installation Guidelines. The ADA requirements are also explained in this Quick Reference Guide

Click here for examples of placards that fit the requirements. 

Exceptions to Placarding and Tenant Notifications

Buildings that have been retrofitted to the following standards will not require a placard or tenant notification:

  • Collapse prevention standard for BSE-2 seismic hazards or life safety for BSE-1 seismic hazard as defined in American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) 41-17 or ASCE 41-13 are not required to post a placard or notify tenants

For buildings that were retrofitted before January 1, 2018, either: 

  • Life Safety standard using FEMA 178, FEMA 310, or ASCE 31; or
  • Oregon Structural Specialty Code 1993 edition or later

Enforcement

  • Portland Fire and Rescue will inspect the placement of placards as part of their inspection program and will work with BDS Enforcement Section in enforcing the requirements for placards
  • BDS Enforcement Section will use its existing enforcement program and authority to enforce the requirements for placarding and tenant notification

Appeals

Building owners who receive notice to place placards and notify tenants but believe that their building is not a URM, or that the URM building has already been retrofitted to meet the standards above, may file an appeal through the bureau’s administrative appeals procedure

Additional Information 

  • BDS intends to notify all eligible URM property owners about the placarding and tenant notification requirements by December 31, 2018
  • BDS will create administrative rules that clarify how to provide documentation to show compliance with the new regulations
  • BDS will provide guidance on how to file appeals