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"State Relaxes Historic Hurdles", Says SE Examiner

The SE Examiner continues to cover residential infill and historic district news in more depth than any other Portland news organization.

Its latest article, "State Relaxes Historic Hurdles", discusses the new state "Goal 5" historic rules which will prevent demolitions of historic houses, while deferring review of projects for years.

"For National Historic District nominations, the wind of opposition may have lost some sail.

For homes in new districts, onerous required design reviews – the hard-sell against national HD designations – are gone, at least for now. Property owners in new districts will be able to renovate, remodel outdoors as well as indoors, build additions, ADUs, and other exterior alterations that were once subject to time-consuming permitting and uncertain expense.

At the same time, the new rules uphold the key protections supporters sought – deterring the wholesale demolition of the neighborhood."

The article quotes the leader of Portland's historic protection program, Brandon Spencer-Hartle He participated on a panel at the LNA General meeting last November, see this article.

"Brandon Spencer-Hartle, who left Restore Oregon to lead preservation work within the City’s Bureau of Development Services, confirms the state’s new rules provide huge flexibility. He says the City is expected to eventually propose design guidelines for new HDs [Historic Districts], but a thorough process will be conducted first to allow resident input on whether they need reviews for window replacements, solar panels and the like – or not."

The new state historic rules have been covered in our previous articles, here and here.

Despite the great flexibility for remodeling provided by the new rules:

'Lenient rules will not sway those who want to demolish and redevelop properties.'

Developers, and others with financial interests in the development industry, want even more. They want the "flexibility" to demolish historic houses and redevelop our neighborhood. Fortunately, the state rules don't give them that.

If Laurelhurst becomes a National Register Historic District, there will be no review of exterior remodels, additions, ADUs, etc for many years, and when review does start, it will be according to guidelines that our neighborhood will have helped develop. But historic homes will be protected from demolition, from day one. That's good for homeowners and for those who want to remodel - not demolish - houses in our neighborhood.

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