On Wednesday (10/23), Portland City Council appointed a new committee to develop a voluntary seismic retrofit program for unreinforced masonry – or URM – buildings. These buildings are prone to partially or completely collapse when the ground shakes during a large earthquake. The committee, consisting of volunteers from a wide variety of backgrounds, will focus on policy and financial options to help for-profit and non-profit unreinforced masonry building owners reduce the seismic danger posed by their structures. The committee will start meeting this fall and present recommendations to Council within a year.
“As a long-time organizer and community leader, what I know is that all process is improved by listening to more voices,” said Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty. “I am committed to continuing the conversation to improve Portland’s resilience in the event a disaster strikes, and I am excited to see what suggestions this new unreinforced masonry building committee comes up with.”
Council also voted to remove requirements adopted in October 2018 to place earthquake warning signs on unreinforced masonry buildings and notify tenants about the danger. The hope is that removing the requirements will resolve a lawsuit filed by some unreinforced masonry building owners, better enabling the committee to work in partnership with owners on long-term safety solutions.
Visit www.portlandoregon.gov/pbem/urms for more information.