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Portland City Council Adopts Historic Resources Code Amendments

On March 6, 2013 Portland’s City Council 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. The code amendments go into effect on May 1, 2013.

Read the adopted Historic Resources Code Amendments

In Portland’s nationally recognized historic districts most exterior work on buildings, as well as all new construction, is subject to review. Both property owners and historic preservation advocates have complained that the process is long, costly and burdensome — and may even hurt the cause of historic preservation that the review is intended to ensure. The Bureau of Planning and Sustainability developed a new code to address these issues in collaboration with the Bureau of Development Services (BDS), which will enforce the new regulations.

Community members and representatives of the Historic Landmarks (HLC) and Planning and Sustainability (PSC) Commissions expressed support for the amendment package.

“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 (PCHR) , a group that represents the city’s historic and conservation districts and preservation professions from across the city.

Carrie Richter, HLC chair, noted that the project "… represents the most feasible way to quickly address stakeholder concerns with respect to historic design review. This project could not address all code concerns and shortcomings. But with an eight-month process and no real budget, we understand that the Historic Resources Code Improvement project cannot serve as a complete overhaul of the code."

Along with the recommended code amendments, the PSC requested the creation of user-friendly handouts to make historic regulations understandable to the general public, and an evaluation in one year of how successful the code amendments are in achieving the project goals. BDS has proposed a fee of $475 for the new review procedure. Council will hear testimony on the fee proposal on March 20, 2013, at 9:30 a.m. (time certain). Contact Rebecca Esau at for more information on the fee proposal. Submit testimony at the hearing or via:

Fax: (503) 823-4571 (attn: Council Clerk)
Mail:1221 SW 4th Ave, Room 140, Portland, OR 97204