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Bill Badrick

This is the perfect illustration of a few zealots locking down whole sections of town for their 'frozen-in-time' ideas of old-fashioned perfection , that exists only in their minds. Home Owners and their Designers should be allowed to make additions to old [too small] homes to fit modern lifestyles. This kind of "hassle by government"
will cause everyone else to just sell and move to the burbs. Leaving Designers like me without clients. Great for the Portland Economy!
The next call I get about a renovation in the city , I will ask them
how they feel about an underground window-less bunker.

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This appeal by the Irvington Community Association seems to be counter to the current effort to streamline the Historic Design Review process

I'd be interested in learning more details about this case, in particular the rationale behind the appeal.

Thanks,

Greg Moulliet
Keep Buckman Free

Jim Heuer

Just for the record, here’s some background information on the Historic Design Review case described by Fred Leeson in his blog entry. As it happens, I’m on the Irvington Historic Preservation Committee and was involved in preparing the appeal to the Landmarks Commission in this case, so I’m quite familiar with the situation.

First, let me say that the Commission sent the case back to BDS for alteration of the design to resolve some specific concerns of architectural compatibility. Those concerns, in additional to concerns about the scale and massing of the addition were the basis of the ICA’s appeal. The applicant has revised the proposed design, and I’m confident that when the Commission re-hears the case later in September, the new design will be approved.

Relative to the larger questions raised by this appeal and Mr. Leeson’s blog entry, this case was the first out of 50 Historic Design Review cases on Irvington properties to be appealed by the ICA. Many cases have gone through either with no comment from the ICA or favorable comment. In a small number of cases, concerns have been raised by the ICA Land Use Committee and/or by BDS staff, and a process of amicable discussion and review has resulted in design changes that made the applications approvable. In some instances, the ICA Committees have lobbied the City on behalf of the property owners to help clear away bureaucratic obstacles thrown up by City staff.

Across these 50 prior cases and the dozen or so currently in process, several million dollars in new construction and remodeling investment has been undertaken. New, infill developments as well as substantial single family house expansions have been involved. A couple dozen architects and building design professionals have been involved in these projects, a number of whom are on their second or third projects in the District since it was created. While the new rules may take some getting used to, the players (including the ICA committees, the architects/designers, and property owners) are adapting and dozens of successful projects have been undertaken and continue to be proposed on an almost daily basis.

In this specific case, a detailed review of the case by the ICA Land Use Committee was triggered by issues raised by neighbors of the subject property. When neighbors raise concerns about a Historic Design Review application, this typically results in much more scrutiny of designs by the Committee – as in one instance where 12 neighbors objected to a proposed design (not this case). That resulted in objections raised by the ICA shortly before the BDS staff issued an approval of the design. While the timing was unfortunate, it was unavoidable, and matters were further exacerbated by a City ruling on the case that raised issues of City Code interpretation and application which went contrary to our understanding of both the proper reading of the statutes and recent Landmarks Commission decisions. This led to an appeal by the ICA of the City’s ruling.

It is not the goal of the ICA Land Use or Historic Preservation Committees to make the Historic Design Review process more difficult. In fact the goal is and has been all along to provide property owners as much information and support as possible to help them through the process successfully. To that end, the ICA has participated in the Coalition of Historic Neighborhoods which lobbied successfully for a City review of the process, resulting in the joint BDS/BPS “Code Improvement Project” currently under way. The ICA is working with its coalition partners to press the City to clarify and simplify the process in that review as much as the State of Oregon enabling legislation (the so-called Certified Local Government statute) permits, consistent with providing reasonable protections for the District. In fact the ICA has funded and will soon publish a guide to weatherizing windows in historic districts, compiled by Portland’s Architectural Heritage Center, in support of greater clarity on what is and is not OK in historic districts throughout our metro area.

Further the ICA and its Coalition partners will continue to press the City to lower Historic Design Review fees, which, despite a recent modest reduction, continue to be the highest in the country. It is hoped that the simplified process coming from the “Code Improvement Project” will enable the BDS leadership to lower the fees on the streamlined processes to reflect the lower labor content in handling them – considering that BDS fees are expected to cover all of the Bureau’s review costs.

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