Commission wants historic home inventory updated

Portland Landmark Commission wants to make it harder for older homes to be torn down

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) — The Portland Landmark Commission met with city council on Thursday to ask for an update of the city’s inventory of historic homes to make it harder for them to be torn down.

The commission’s request is part of an ongoing effort to deal with the increase in lot-splitting that is occurring all over the city.

“[The year] 2013 set a record for single family demolitions,” said Brian Emerick of the Portland Landmark Commission.

Emerick said the complexion of Portland’s neighborhoods is changing, and the commission wants to make sure history isn’t lost when older homes are replaced.

“You start losing too many of those in your neighborhood, and it really does affect the livability and what you recognize and feel in your community,” said Emerick.

Part of the commission’s recommendations to city council on Thursday included the removal of the demolition permit delay exception, a loophole that developers have utilized.

“Developers are pretty savvy. They figured out that if I pull the demo permit, I can tear that house down, and as long as I’m applying for one more to replace it. Then I’ll come back next week, and I’ll apply for the second house or the lot division,” said Emerick.

The commission also wants to define demolition because as the term is defined now, developers don’t need permits unless the entire site is scraped clean.

About 1/5 of Portland’s homes currently sit on land that’s zoned for higher density.

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