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The LNA's Historic District Committee Supports Historic District; The LNA Board Is Waiting For N

The Laurelhurst Neighborhood Association (LNA) Exploratory Historic District Committee recently completed its report on Historic District. The full report is available online to read or download at this link.

Here is the report's Executive Summary:

"Executive Summary

1. Demolitions in Portland are increasing. The annual rate of residential demolitions in Portland has tripled since 2009, with 384 permits filed in 2016. At least 30 houses in Laurelhurst have been wholly or partially demolished in the past 10 years.

2. The Residential Infill Project is likely to increase the number of demolitions in Laurelhurst and the amount of incompatible redevelopment of the neighborhood with duplexes, triplexes, and clusters of small apartments and condominiums, while failing to produce much-needed affordable housing.

3. If Laurelhurst becomes a National Register Historic District:

• At least half and potentially more of the neighborhood’s houses will be protected from demolition as “contributing” structures – i.e. structures that contribute to the district’s historical significance;

• The infill redevelopment that does occur will be compatible with the neighborhood’s historical character and architecture, and;

• Additions and accessory dwelling units that are compatible with the neighborhood’s historical character and architecture, and internal conversion of houses to duplexes and triplexes, will be permitted.

4. There is no alternative to National Register Historic District listing that will protect Laurelhurst’s contributing houses from demolition.

5. Due to the January 2017 changes to Goal 5, the State’s historic protection rule, if Laurelhurst became a National Register Historic District, demolition protection would apply immediately, but historic review of construction would not apply for an initial period, possibly several years.

6. In a historic district, historic review does not apply to work on the interior of a house, to repair and maintenance, to landscaping, or to many other types of projects. Historic review permits compatibly designed additions, accessory dwelling units, and internal conversions of houses to duplexes.

7. When historic review does become applicable in a future Laurelhurst National Register Historic District, the guidelines used for the neighborhood will be developed through public meetings of the city and the Laurelhurst neighborhood.

8. Becoming a National Register Historic District will not hurt property values in Laurelhurst, or affect property insurance rates. Homeowners who renovate contributing properties may be eligible for a freeze on property tax assessments at the pre-renovation level for 10 to 20 years. Owners who renovate income-producing contributing properties may be eligible for a federal income tax credit equal to 20% of renovation cost.

9. Becoming a National Register Historic District will require about one year for fieldwork, preparation and filing of a nomination, and review by the State Historic Protection Office and the National Park Service. The funds required to do this work can be raised through donations and fund-raising, in addition to LNA funds. Strong participation by Laurelhurst volunteers will be needed. The LNA should coordinate with neighborhood groups and with historic protection organizations.

10. Awareness of Historic District and the Residential Infill Project among Laurelhurst residents is currently limited, although increasing, despite the LNA and neighborhood groups’ efforts to provide information to the neighborhood.

11. The Exploratory Historic District Committee recommends that Laurelhurst become listed as a National Register Historic District.

12. The Exploratory Historic District Committee recommends that the LNA board, with the assistance of the committee and in coordination with neighborhood and other groups:

a. Vote to support, advocate for, and work for National Register Historic District listing, recognizing that it would take at least a year to achieve this designation;

b. Work to inform residents of the relevant issues, facts, and considerations through a fair, transparent, and inclusive process, including forums, workshops, fact-checked written materials, and other resources through which residents can ask questions, express views, and gain an understanding of the pros, cons, and implications of Historic District designation;

c. Raise the necessary fund-raising for preparation of the Nomination required for listing;

d. At an appropriate time, assess the views of the neighborhood, before filing the Nomination;

e. If a Nomination is filed, continue support, advocacy, fund-raising, and work to secure the listing.

13. The above recommendations are unanimous."

After reviewing the report, the LNA voted to conditionally support a historic district listing for Laurelhurst. The "condition" is that the LNA board is only willing to take steps toward a historic district listing "if and only if the Board determines that a majority of the neighborhood supports historic district status". The full resolution is here. and it includes this language:

"the Laurelhurst Neighborhood Association Board, for the reasons stated above as well as for those articulated in the report of the Exploratory Historic District Committee, believes that Laurelhurst should become a National Register Historic District and that the process of applying for historic district status should proceed as expeditiously as possible;

the LNA Board, by a majority vote, believes that a National Register Historic District listing is in the best interest of the neighborhood; and

the LNA Board unanimously believes a National Register Historic District listing should not be filed unless a majority of the neighborhood supports it;"

If our neighborhood wants to be a historic district, we have to show the LNA board that a majority of the neighborhood wants it. That is why our petition campaign is so important.

If you are a Laurelhurst resident or own property in Laurelhurst, and you haven't signed the petition, please consider doing so - it is at this link. If your spouse, partner, or other adults (parents, children) living in your Laurelhurst household haven't signed the petition, please consider asking them to do so. If your friends and neighbors haven't signed the petition, please talk to them.

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