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How Might Portland Control Infill Without A Demolition Tax?

Squatters protest the demolition of a home in Southeast Portland.

Squatters protest the demolition of a home in Southeast Portland.

Amelia Templeton/OPB

A proposed tax on the demolition of some Portland homes is dead, but the city is still considering other ways to control construction.

Portland Mayor Charlie Hales suggested a $25,000 tax on demolitions last year, after homeowners complained people were tearing down old homes and replacing them with larger, modern homes.

Hales couldn’t get council support.

But his policy director, Jillian Detweiler, says they’re now looking at new design standards as a way to ease tensions over new construction. 

“For example, limiting the size of houses and have the size of a house, its square footage, bear some relationship to the surrounding houses. There might be some opportunities to protect solar access. There might be ways to regulate how windows are placed to preserve privacy,” she said.

The council is expected to hear recommendations this spring.

The city is also considering a requirement that owners deconstruct buildings that need to be torn down, rather than demolishing them. That would reduce the waste stream, but also make infill more expensive.

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