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About the Historic Resources Code Project

Information
General information about the project’s focus areas

Project purpose

The Historic Resources Code Project (HRCP) is a Bureau of Planning and Sustainability zoning code project that has researched regional and national best practices, analyzed deficiencies in Portland’s existing historic preservation regulations and solicited multiple rounds of public feedback on concepts to result in recommended zoning code amendments related to the procedures, thresholds and incentives that apply to inventoried and designated historic resources. The project builds upon previous historic resource zoning code projects that were adopted in 2013, 2004, 2002 and 1996.

The HRCP package is divided into three primary focus areas:

1. Inventorying Significant Historic Resources

  • Develop a framework for updating the 33-year-old citywide Historic Resource Inventory (HRI).
  • Develop a procedure for adding properties to and removing properties from the HRI.

2. Designation of Landmarks and Districts

  • Overhaul procedures for designating new local historic and conservation landmarks and districts.
  • Reduce existing 100 percent owner consent requirement for designation of local historic and conservation districts.
  • Prioritize designation of underrepresented histories and require consideration of competing public values at the time of designation.

3. Protection of Designated Historic Resources

  • Revise demolition and design protections that apply to locally designated historic and conservation landmarks and districts.
  • Explore additional zoning code incentives that would promote the use and rehabilitation of designated historic resources.
  • Review thresholds, procedures and exemptions for projects subject to historic resource review, including accessory building demolition, new signs, minor seismic alterations, window and door replacement, solar installations and changes to non-street facing elevations.

The project does not propose to develop district-specific design guidelines or standards, inventory or designate new historic resources, offer financial incentives to owners of historic resources, or make changes to building regulations outside of the Portland zoning code. The adopted zoning code changes that result from this project will inform the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability’s future historic resources projects, which may include additional code changes, development of district-specific regulations and updates to the citywide Historic Resources Inventory.

Project background

The Bureau of Planning and Sustainability is advancing a zoning code project that will make changes to how the City of Portland identifies, designates and protects historic resources. The Historic Resources Code Project follows a 2016 Oregon State Supreme Court decision and 2017 changes to state administrative rules, both of which provide opportunities to improve Portland’s historic resource protection programs for all members of the community. By revising zoning code regulations, the project seeks to better align the city’s historic preservation programs with a variety of community values, including assuring that future designation of landmarks and districts elevates and protects unrepresented histories.

Project steps and timeline

The Historic Resources Code Project launched in September 2017. Following review of state and national best practices and a series of public roundtable sessions, a Discussion Draft of the proposed zoning code changes was released in January 2019. After incorporating public feedback on the Discussion Draft, a Proposed Draft of code amendments was published in September 2020. The Planning and Sustainability Commission considered testimony on the Proposed Draft in fall 2020 and subsequently incorporated several changes into a revised Recommended Draft, which was released in June 2021. The Portland City Council will hold a hearing on the Recommended Draft zoning code amendments on Nov. 3, 2021 at 2 p.m. Pre-registration is required.

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