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Updates on City’s Building Demolition Program


Plans Examiner Newsletter


Using authority granted to local jurisdictions by the State legislature, the City of Portland enacted a new Residential Demolition Ordinance that created a first-of-its-kind program to address potential impacts from residential demolitions on neighboring properties, effective July 1, 2018.  The main goal of the program was to prevent public health risks from exposure to lead and asbestos dust during the demolition of houses with one to four units.

Since implementation, BDS staff has been monitoring the program and gathering information on what is working well and what can be made better. BDS staff has met with representatives from Oregon Health Authority, Oregon DEQ, the Contractor’s Board, other regulatory agencies and stakeholders, including members of the City’s Development Review Advisory Committee, to discuss how to improve the program. As part of that review, these stakeholders identified an issue with what was being inspected during the second inspection and whether that inspection was meeting the expectations of the community.

In response to this feedback, BDS amended its administrative rules on February 10, 2020 to require an inspection after exterior painted materials are removed by hand and before mechanical demolition occurs, as well as another inspection at the beginning of mechanical demolition activities to verify the wetting system is effectively suppressing any dust. BDS has drafted a report to the City Council that summarizes the program, what worked, issues identified to improve the program, recommendations for amendments to the ordinance, and proposed next steps.

The program update and report will be presented to the City Council on February 26, 2020 at 10:15 a.m. If the City Council adopts the report and recommendations, BDS will modify the Demolition Ordinance to put details into the administrative rules, make other changes for clarity, and adopt permanent administrative rules that incorporate the interim rules and update other provisions.