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The City of Portland, Oregon

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

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BPS News: Proposal To Improve Process of Minor Home Improvements in City’s Historic and Conservation Districts Ready for Review


November 20, 2012


Jay Sugnet
Bureau of Planning and Sustainability
Tim Heron
Portland Bureau of Development Services

Proposal To Improve Process of Minor Home Improvements in City’s Historic and Conservation Districts Ready for Review

Discussion Draft Available for Public Comment and Landmarks Commission

PORTLAND, Ore. - Last summer, the City Council convened the Historic Resources Code Improvement Project (HRCIP) and commissioned the bureaus of Planning and Sustainability, and Development Services to address issues around historic design review to address community concerns about the process.
In September, the City published an Issues and Options Paper to start a community conversation about possible regulatory changes to be considered during this project. Staff met with the Historic Landmarks Commission, the Planning and Sustainability Commission and other community members to get feedback on the draft issues and options. Based on this input and continuing community conversations, staff created a discussion draft with detailed code amendments.
The HRCIP Discussion Draft is now available for public review and comment. The draft will inform a discussion with the Historic Landmarks Commission at a public hearing.
Landmarks Commission Public Hearing
Historic Resources Code Improvement Project Discussion Draft
Dec. 10, 2012, 1:30 p.m.
1900 SW 4th Avenue Building, 2500A
Testify in person or send your comments directly to
After the Historic Landmarks Commission hearing, staff will incorporate input from the public and the Landmarks Commission and prepare a Bureau of Planning and Sustainability recommendation to the Planning and Sustainability Commission. A hearing is tentatively scheduled for Jan. 22, 2013, in the evening. City Council will then hold a hearing as early as February.
For more information about the project and how to get involved, please visit the project website at or call 503-823-5869.
In the city’s National Historic and Conservation Districts most exterior work on buildings, as well as all new construction, are subject to Historic Design Review. Both property owners and historic preservation advocates are concerned about the cost and time involved, as well as the impacts on historic preservation efforts.
While minor maintenance and repair are currently exempt from review, fees for small home remodeling projects, can cost up to $900; in some cases, the fees can be more than the cost of the job itself. And even though the design review process provides for flexibility and public dialogue, it can take as long as 6-8 weeks.
As a result, some property owners decide to make exterior home improvements without going through historic design review, while others decide not to make improvements at all.
The overall purpose of this project is to reassess when historic design review is necessary and appropriate.

Project staff have been collecting data to assess the impact of different options, engaging with the community to get their feedback, drafting code amendments and coordinating with the Bureau of Development Services, Historic Landmarks Commission and the Development Review Advisory Committee.

The Bureau of Planning and Sustainability is committed to providing equal access to information and hearings. If you need special accommodation, please call 503-823-7700, the City’s TTY at 503-823-6868, or the Oregon relay Service at 1-800-735-2900.


About the Historic Resources Code Improvement Project

Over an 8-month public process, this project will propose amendments to the Zoning Code to make it easier for property owners to make minor home improvements in the City’s historic and conservation districts. For more information, please visit the project website at If you would like to receive monthly project updates, please visit the website and click on the “stay informed” button. 

About the City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS)

Through partnerships and collaboration, BPS develops innovative and practical solutions to create and enhance a prosperous, educated, healthy and equitable city. The bureau provides: Citywide strategic and comprehensive land use planning; neighborhood, district, economic, historic and environmental research, planning and urban design; policy and services to advance energy efficiency, green building, waste reduction, composting and recycling, solar and renewable energy use, and local sustainable food production; as well as actions to mitigate and adapt to climate change. For more information, visit