Skip to Main Content View Text-Only

Planning and Sustainability

Innovation. Collaboration. Practical Solutions.

Phone: 503-823-7700

Curbside Hotline: 503-823-7202

1900 SW 4th Ave, Suite 7100, Portland, OR 97201

More Contact Info

Historic Landmarks Commission to Deliver Annual Report on November 29th

The 2017 “State of the City Preservation Report” outlines Historic Landmarks Commission priorities for changing public perception, adding housing units, and inventorying historic resources.

Among their many recent approvals, the Historic Landmarks Commission supported an infill project that will add 60 new housing units to the Alphabet Historic District. Rendering courtesy Atomic Sky and Emerick Architects. Every fall, the Portland Historic Landmarks Commission delivers their annual “State of the City Preservation Report” to the Portland City Council. The report is an opportunity for the all-volunteer commission to highlight their recent activities, identify priorities for the coming year, and celebrate notable rehabilitation and infill projects approved by the commission. This year’s report will be delivered Wednesday, November 29th at 2 p.m. in the Council Chambers at Portland City Hall. The presentation is open to the public and testimony will be accepted.

The 2017 report focuses on numerous Historic Landmarks Commission priorities including changing public perceptions, addressing the housing emergency, and updating the citywide Historic Resources Inventory. The report’s authors state,

The Portland Historic Landmarks Commission, in partnership with City Council, must continue to be proactive advocates of maintaining and refining protections for designated properties, as well as working to assure that these protections are available to and benefit all Portland citizens. We can advocate for our City’s collective history by supporting the Historic Resources Code Project, as well as working together to make informed decisions that are equitable and long-term in thinking.”

Among the Commission’s primary themes in the report is a renewed call for an update to the Historic Resource Inventory (HRI). The report states,

For over ten years, the Commission has been calling for a citywide update of the 33-year-old HRI to provide an accurate public record, include areas and property types not previously surveyed (East Portland, Modern-era buildings, landmarks associated with communities of color, etc.), and develop a tool to inform sound land use planning decisions. Following concerted advocacy from BPS staff and the broader preservation community, statewide land use Goal 5 was amended in February 2017 to remove regulatory barriers to updating local inventories. Portland now has full jurisdiction to make good on the PHLC’s repeated calls to update the inventory.”

Additional priorities noted in the report include:

  • Promoting and incentivizing the seismic upgrade of unreinforced masonry buildings
  • Exploring the possibilities of a State Rehabilitation Tax Credit
  • Maintaining existing state-level protections for designated historic properties
  • Advancing affordable housing options in historic buildings and districts

The 19-page “State of the City Preservation Report” is available for download as a PDF. 

Historic Resources Code Project Seeks Community Input

Four public roundtables have been scheduled to solicit input on the project’s primary focus areas: identification, designation and protection of historic resources.

Kenton Firehouse, a local historic landmark in a conservation district.

The Bureau of Planning and Sustainability is advancing the Historic Resources Code Project (HRCP), a zoning code initiative that will propose changes to how the City of Portland identifies, designates, and protects significant historic resources. Facilitated by a 2016 Oregon State Supreme Court ruling and recent changes to state administrative rules, the HRCP seeks to improve Portland’s historic resource protection programs and better steward the city’s rich cultural and architectural heritage.

Four public roundtables have been scheduled to solicit input on the project’s primary focus areas: identification, designation and protection of historic resources. Roundtables are open to the public and all venues are accessible to people with disabilities.

Why Portland’s Historic Places Matter
Thursday, December 7th, 6:00 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.
White Stag Block, 70 NW Couch St.
An opportunity to define and affirm the City’s historic preservation goals and values. Conversations will focus on the community benefits of preservation, including the cultural, economic and environmental value of diverse historic resources.

New Tools for Inventorying and Adapting Historic Resources
Thursday, January 11th, 6:00 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.
Architectural Heritage Center, 701 SE Grand Ave.
An examination of survey, inventory and reuse of historic resources. This roundtable will address opportunities for updating Portland’s 33-year-old Historic Resources Inventory as well as explore possible zoning incentives for preservation.

What’s Working and What’s Not in Portland’s Historic Districts
Wednesday, January 24th, 6:00 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.
Taborspace, 5441 SE Belmont St.
A technical discussion about the application of historic resource review in Portland’s Historic Districts. Dialogue will center on the regulations associated with National Register Historic District designation and explore opportunities for improving the practicality and effectiveness of historic resource review.

Local District Designation: An Alternative to the National Register?
Tuesday, February 6th, 6:00 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.
North Portland Library, 512 N Killingsworth St.
An exploration of potential alternatives to listing landmarks and districts in the National Register of Historic Places. Discussions will focus on how the City’s local Historic and Conservation Landmark and District designations might be modified to create more accessible and responsive designation and protection options.

In addition to the above roundtables, staff will be available at two drop-in sessions to provide additional opportunities to learn about the project and solicit general feedback:

Historic Resources Drop-in Session
Monday, December 18th, 5:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.
Peninsula Park Community Center, 700 N Rosa Parks Way

Historic Resources Drop-in Session
Tuesday, January 9th, 5:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.
Midland Library, 805 SE 122nd Ave.

Bureau of Planning and Sustainability staff will incorporate public feedback from roundtables and drop-in sessions into the development of zoning code concepts. Draft zoning code language will be released in spring 2018, at which time more opportunities for public feedback will be scheduled.

If you cannot attend one of the Roundtables or drop-in sessions, please consider filling out a comment form and returning it to the project team. If you have questions or comments, the project team can be reached at (503) 823-7247 or

Follow this Project
Sign up for the City of Portland’s historic resource program email list to be informed of project developments. 

BPS launches Historic Resources Code Project

The project will research regional and national best practices and propose zoning code changes to reconcile deficiencies in Portland’s existing programs.

The Bureau of Planning and Sustainability has launched a 14-month zoning code project that will propose changes to how the City of Portland identifies, designates and protects historic resources. The Historic Resources Code Project follows a 2016 Oregon State Supreme Court decision and recently adopted changes to state administrative rules, both of which provide opportunities for improving Portland’s historic resource protection programs. The project will build upon previous historic resource zoning code projects, the most recent of which was adopted in 2013 and made changes to review procedures for minor exterior alteration projects in historic districts.

What’s the project timeline?

The Historic Resources Code Project will last approximately 14 months, beginning in September 2017. A project timeline is below.


Opportunities for public involvement will be posted to the Historic Resources Code Project website as the project develops.

What sections of the code will be most affected?

Many sections of the Portland zoning code address historic resources, but it is primarily sections 33.445 and 33.846 that provide the City’s framework for identifying, designating and protecting historic resources. It’s anticipated the Historic Resources Code Project will result in significant changes to both of these sections of the zoning code.

What won’t be included in the project?

Although the project will be proposing minor and major policy changes, there are a number of items that the project is not anticipated to address. Among the items that won’t be included in this project are:

  • Development of district-specific design guidelines or standards
  • Inventorying or designating new historic resources
  • Providing financial incentives to owners of historic resources
  • Proposing changes to building regulations outside of the zoning code.
  • Changing the National Register of Historic Places designation process or the minimum protections that apply to National Register resources under State Land Use Goal 5.  

The adopted zoning code changes that result from this project will inform the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability’s future historic resources projects, which may include additional code changes, development of district-specific guidelines and standards and a citywide update to the Historic Resources Inventory.

How can I follow this project?

Project updates will be distributed to the historic resources program email list; sign-up to receive information about events and project milestones.

Who is responsible for the project?

The project is being managed by the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability’s historic resources program, with support from the Bureau of Development Services’ design and historic resources team. Core project staff include:

  • Brandon Spencer-Hartle, Project Manager
  • Caity Ewers, Community Service Aide II
  • Hillary Adam, BDS Liaison

For questions about and comments on the Historic Resources Code Project, email

Portland’s Historic Resource Inventory now on Instagram!

The social media project shares interesting images representing the breadth and depth of Portland's historic properties.


Between 1980 and 1984, the City of Portland conducted a citywide survey of potentially historic resources that culminated in an inventory of 5,000 documented places. The Historic Resource Inventory (HRI) included residences, warehouses, statues, historic sites, factories, commercial buildings, and even trees. The property-by-property documentation was initially contained in 26 three-ring binders, with the original set housed at the State Historic Preservation Office and copies available at the City Archives and Records Center, Oregon Historical Society, and Bureau of Planning and Sustainability. 

This past spring and summer, two interns from Portland State University and University of Oregon digitized the City’s inventory records, reconciled changes that have occurred since 1984, and integrated up-to-date HRI data into BPS’ historic resources webmap. The project included a review of all 5,000 HRI records to ensure the accuracy of City data regarding historic significance rankings, demolitions, and property location. All photographs from the 1984 effort were scanned and cropped to be used in future historic resources documentation efforts.

Although photographs were taken of nearly all of 5,000 HRI properties, 250 of the most interesting images representing the breadth and depth of the 1984 effort were set aside to be shared on the Instagram account Portland1984 over the course of the coming year. The images capture a snapshot of a moment in Portland’s past and provide inspiration about how historic resources can contribute to Portland’s future. Instagram users are encouraged to interact with the posts, sharing memories and ideas for how historic places might be used in the coming years.

Digitization of the 1984 HRI records is one of several concurrent efforts underway to prepare for an eventual update to the citywide inventory of significant historic resources. Additional background on possible next steps for updating the inventory will be posted to the Historic Resources and Preservation page in October, but in the meantime check out Portland1984 Instagram!