The Historic Resources Code Project (HRCP) proposes changes to the City of Portland’s regulations for identifying, designating, protecting, and reusing historic places. You can read the draft HRCP proposal, released in July 2021, here. The draft will go before the Portland City Council on November 3.
HOW TO TAKE ACTION
Share stories or general ideas
The HRCP is extensive, but the ideas you share don’t need to be about specific items in the proposal. Your stories, concerns, and ideas about Portland’s historic places matter, and the city wants to hear them. You don’t have to be an expert!
- Are places important to your culture at risk of being demolished?
- Are you frustrated that new and expensive housing is replacing older, affordable housing?
- Do you worry your historic apartment complex is at risk?
- Are you concerned that constant demolition is contributing to climate change?
- Do you have story about the history of your home, apartment, or neighborhood?
Take a moment to write a few sentences to let city leaders know that you are concerned about our historic places and why.
SHARE YOUR IDEAS
- WRITE TO THE COUNCIL about why you care about our city’s historic places by November 3 via the Map App.
Share your own ideas or one of the perspectives below.
- GIVE VIRTUAL TESTIMONY at the hearing on November 3 at 2pm. Be sure to register at this link by November 2 at 4pm.
Respond to specific ideas in the plan
Want to dig a little deeper? Here are some quick links to learn about our city’s current list of historic properties, the goals of this project, and the changes being proposed to the processes, regulations, and incentives that apply to the city’s historic places.
PERSPECTIVES ON THE PLAN
Will these changes save our historic places? The AHC advocacy committee has been carefully tracking the code amendments for several years. Here are some insights on the plan from the AHC:
- The AHC is supportive of the greater part this project’s goals and implementation. The plan provides a more streamlined and equitable process to protect historic places and neighborhoods that are important to all cultures in our city.
- The HRCP calls for an updated survey of Portland’s historic places, which is important because our city’s Historic Resources Inventory hasn’t been changed since 1984! Among other plusses, the inventory can be expanded to include architectural, historical, and cultural places that over the decades have become more and more vulnerable to demolition and we recognize as critical to protect.
- Increased protection for Conservation Landmarks and contributing properties in Conservation Districts is also in the HRCP. These are places with significance at the local level. This is good news because it will create greater preservation equity by protecting neighborhoods in North and Northeast Portland that tell the story of the Black experience. It will correct a long-standing disparity between protections for historic Black neighborhoods compared to other areas.
- Current decision making about our city’s historic landmarks and districts is guided by a Historic Landmarks Commission: a diverse panel of council-approved members who have demonstrated experience or interest in Portland history, architecture, and neighborhoods. Unfortunately, the code amendment changes would dilute the expertise of the Commission and restrict its ability to address the City Council directly on matters related to historic districts. We find the current commission process works well and would be diminished by the proposed changes to procedures.
- The proposed rules create a large loophole that could be applied to “de-designate” parts or all of a historic district. The proposed code creates a balancing test to determine whether preservation is outweighed by other elements of the city’s comprehensive plan. This appears to conflict with Statewide Land Use Planning Goal 5, which requires complete loss of historic integrity as a reason for de-designation.
Other HRCP sources
- Restore Oregon also provides testimony ideas.
- Visit Portland tomorrow, a website developed by independent local historic preservation groups, which provides an overview and testimony recommendations on the HRCP.
- Read an analysis of the project on Building on History, a blog by journalist and longtime Portland advocate Fred Leeson.