Demolition Delay History and Demolition Code FAQ’s

What is the Demolition Delay Ordinance?

The Demolition Delay Ordinance (Portland City Code section 24.55.200) is administered by the Bureau of Development Services (BDS).

To what sites does the Demolition Delay Ordinance apply?

The Demolition Delay Ordinance only applies to sites with residential structures in areas designated as residential in the Comprehensive Plan Map. The Ordinance does not apply to accessory structures such as garages or other outbuildings. In addition, the Ordinance does not apply to one and two family residential structures in commercial or industrial zones. Different and additional demolition review and/or delay processes may apply through the City’s zoning regulations (Title 33). The Title 33 demolition review and delay process applies to Historic and Conservation Landmark buildings, as well as contributing structures in Historic and Conservation Districts. You can verify the zoning of your site at, or call the Planning and Zoning Hotline for more information at: (503) 823-7526.

When was the Demolition Delay Ordinance first enacted?

Demolition delay was first included in the Portland City Code in 1975 as part of the City’s enforcement relating to dangerous and abandoned buildings. The City Council subsequently enacted the Demolition Delay Ordinance in its current form in 1988. It has since been amended four times: in 1990, 1997, 2002, and 2015.

What was the purpose of the Demolition Delay Ordinance?

The original demolition delay provisions enacted prior to the Demolition Delay Ordinance were intended to bring older apartment buildings and residential hotels up to relevant structural, fire and life safety standards to save them from demolition and to maintain the City’s affordable housing stock. Similarly, the Demolition Delay Ordinance was enacted in 1988 to preserve housing and is entitled, “Demolition Delay – Housing Preservation.” The Demolition Delay Ordinance balances a property owner’s right to develop the property with the desire to preserve viable housing stock by encouraging property owners to move or rehabilitate residential structures that can be preserved as an alternative to demolition.

What does the Demolition Delay Ordinance require?


Self Certification Regarding Asbestos and Lead-Based Paint

Delay Period

Extension of Delay

What constitutes a demolition?

See Overview and Criteria for Demolition Delay and Notification.

How are air quality impacts of a demolition addressed?

The City does not regulate air quality, including asbestos or lead-based paint. View information on agencies that regulate air quality and hazardous materials.

How do I request a change in the Demolition Delay Ordinance?

The best option for requesting a change to the Demolition Delay Ordinance is to submit an email to BDS and select “Code Change Recommendations” in the “subjects” line.  Those recommendations will be forwarded to the Director of BDS and the Commissioner in Charge of the Bureau.  If the Director and Commissioner agree that a change is warranted, they will present the proposed change to the City Council for consideration.

Where can I obtain more information on the Demolition Delay Ordinance?

BDS has prepared a comprehensive memorandum on the history and purpose of the Demolition Delay Ordinance that includes citations to the source material.