Three Portland City Council members have suggested important amendments that would substantially improve proposed city rules for regulating Portland’s designated landmarks and historic districts. You can find out more about this project to update city code for historic resources in our October blog.
From a list of eight proposed amendments, these three amendments are the most important and will make a real difference in saving historic buildings. There’s a short window of opportunity to weigh in since the next City Council hearing is December 15! Messages in support of these amendments can be emailed to the mayor and city commissioners and oral testimony can be given at the December 15 hearing.
- Amendment No. 3 from Commissioner Carmen Rubio would revise rules for deciding when to demolish a landmark by removing a current standard allowing demolition when a building has “no reasonable economic value.” The “no economic value” standard can allow owners to ignore routine maintenance and intentionally neglect important historic structures to justify their demolition.
- Amendment No. 5 proposed by Commissioner Mingus Mapps would give the Portland Historic Landmarks Commission equal footing with the Planning and Sustainability Commission when considering creation or removal of historic district designations. If the two commissions reach differing conclusions on an issue, both commissions would offer their recommendations to the City Council. As currently written, the proposed rules would omit the Landmarks Commission from these important decisions.
- Amendment No. 6, also proposed by Commissioner Mapps, would retain Portland’s longstanding qualifications for membership on the Landmarks Commission. Unless amended, the professional experience qualifications for appointment to the commission would be diluted, and it seems important that city commissions should benefit from best expertise available.
At least three votes on the five-member City Council are needed to add these amendments to the Historic Resources Code Project as it now stands. Whether three or more commissioners support these amendments isn’t known. These amendments capture some of the best ideas expressed by our community to help save historic structures, and we encourage you to weigh in at this critical time!