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About the Historic Resources Code Project

General information about the project’s focus areas

Project purpose

The Historic Resources Code Project will research regional and national best practices, analyze deficiencies in Portland’s existing programs and propose zoning code changes related to the procedures, thresholds and incentives that apply to inventoried and designated historic resources. The project will build upon previous historic resource zoning code projects that were adopted in 2013, 2004, 2002 and 1996.

The project 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.
  • Review owner consent requirements for listing significant properties in the HRI; evaluate existing by-right HRI removal option.

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.

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 available to 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 is not proposing 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 guidelines and standards and a citywide update to the 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 recently-adopted changes to state administrative rules, both of which provide opportunities for improving Portland’s historic resource protection programs. During this moment of citywide growth and change, the project seeks to better align the city’s historic preservation programs with other community goals.

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, the Proposed Draft of code amendments was released September 15, 2020. Learn more about the Proposed Draft.