The City of Portland recently released a map and database showing the locations of around 1,800 unreinforced masonry buildings – or URMs – vulnerable from shaking during an earthquake if not structurally retrofitted (http://www.portlandonline.com/bds/urms). URMs are buildings generally constructed before the 1960s using brick with little to no steel reinforcement in the walls. The new building data was collected as part of the Portland URM Seismic Retrofit Project, a collaborative effort sponsored by Commissioner Steve Novick between the Portland Bureau of Development Services (BDS), Portland Bureau of Emergency Management (PBEM), Portland Development Commission (PDC), and community members, to reduce the risk posed by URMs to the city.
The URM map and database are now available online for building owners, business owners, and residents to find out where URMs are located, and learn basic information about the structures – http://www.portlandonline.com/bds/urms. Since the last time Portland collected URM data in the 1990s, only 13 percent of the approximately 1,800 URM buildings have been fully or partially upgraded with another 8 percent demolished.
The URM Seismic Retrofit Project is currently working on a mandatory URM retrofit policy – along with incentives for building owners – for City Council to consider later this year. Other cities on the West Coast, including San Francisco and Los Angeles, already have similar policies in place. The public will be able to comment on the proposed policy later this year. Information on the project can be found at https://www.portlandoregon.gov/pbem/urmproject.
Questions about URMs? Please email BDS.URMBuildings@portlandoregon.gov or call the Bureau of Development Services Main Reception Desk at 503-823-7300.