Gates to Chinatown. Photo by Brian Johnson.
The Council’s actions in the district have been confusing, to say the least. Originally they supported the work of the Planning and Sustainability Commission to set height limits in the district at 125 feet. Then the Council made some revisions for a single block (Block 33), allowing it a maximum height of 160 feet. Finally, at the last minute and without opportunity for public testimony, the Council voted to increase the height of this one block—and an additional four full blocks—to 200 feet. There was no prior public notice or opportunity for the public to weigh in on the change, which is a violation of the public process.
The AHC is supportive of compatible, new development that creates affordable housing and brings new vitality to districts such as New Chinatown/Japantown, but the Council’s actions set a dangerous precedent for zoning in historic districts throughout the city and also undermine public process. The Bosco-Milligan Foundation/Architectural Heritage Center rarely appeals after the City Council acts, at least partially because of the expense. In this case, however, the City’s actions were so egregious that our organization’s Board of Directors voted unanimously to support the appeal.
The AHC is joined in the appeal with co-petitioners Restore Oregon, the Portland Chinatown Museum (part of the Portland Chinatown History Foundation) and the Oregon Nikkei Endowment. The Old Town Community Association plans to join the appeal and file as an intervenor.
To learn more about the history of New Chinatown/Japantown, which was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1989, consult the National Register nomination.
We will keep you updated on developments as the appeal move forward. Be sure to subscribe to our bi-weekly e-news and follow us on social media to receive the latest news.