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Portland Approves Proposal To Salvage Historic Homes

Squatters protest the demolition of a home in Southeast Portland.

Squatters protest the demolition of a home in Southeast Portland.

Amelia Templeton/OPB

Portland’s City Council passed a proposal Wednesday aimed at the uptick in home demolitions.
Under the proposal, the city will require contractors to carefully deconstruct some older homes and salvage the materials inside.

Commissioner Amanda Fritz said Wednesday she hopes the code changes will encourage the preservation of older homes.
“Part of the impetus for it is that we want to discourage demolishing of good old houses,” Fritz said.
Many of Portland’s older homes were built with high quality materials like old growth lumber, hardwood floors and solid doors. In the past, developers have been able to scrap those materials.
Staff with the city’s Bureau of Planning and Sustainability say deconstructing a house and reusing its building blocks reduces waste and carbon emissions.

Last year, Mayor Hales proposed a $25,000 tax on demolitions, but couldn’t get enough votes to pass that proposal.
Following Wednesday’s action by the council, the planning bureau plans to write new code requiring deconstruction of homes that were built before 1916, or that have a historic designation. That’s about a third of the homes demolished each year in Portland.
The code changes will go into effect in October.

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