COMMISSIONER JO ANN HARDESTY ANNOUNCES DELAYED FIRE BUREAU ENFORCEMENT OF UNREINFORCED MASONRY SIGNAGE REQUIREMENT
News Release from Portland Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty
January 31st, 2019 4:22 PM
Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty has directed Portland Fire & Rescue to pause any unreinforced masonry (URM) building enforcement until further outreach by her office is completed. Commissioner Hardesty also oversees the Portland Bureau of Emergency Management (PBEM) and she has asked that bureau to continue to lead work sessions on the topic and further investigate financial incentives that would make seismic upgrades feasible for many business owners and non-profit operators.
Placarding requirements for business owners housed in URM buildings are slated to start on March 1st. A policy affecting non-profit organizations is slated to go in effect November of 2020. Questions regarding enforcement by the Bureau of Development Services (BDS) should be directed to that bureau as Commissioner Hardesty does not oversee their operations.
While public safety is a concern, there has been a tremendous amount of community feedback on the issues surrounding the placarding and other requirements set to impact URMs. Commissioner Hardesty has been weighing concerns from all sides and has decided that she personally needs to spend more time speaking with community members about the issue. Those interested in participating in a work group can write to URMS@portlandoregon.gov for consideration. Commissioner Hardesty will be investigating ways to find funding for building upgrades, including lobbying state legislators in Salem for assistance.
“No one is interested in putting our residents at risk, but we need to look at ways to better support businesses and non-profits in seismically upgrading their buildings,” says Commissioner Hardesty. “A placard is a band-aid for a much larger problem. Until we have better support in place, especially in the form of funding assistance for these projects, I want placarding enforcement on hold for businesses and non-profit organizations.”