- Tell me about the historic district process.
- In an historic district, what changes would I be able to make on my property?
- Historic Resource Review (HRR), Cost and Process
- How will Historic District status affect the neighborhood?
- Portland Historic Resources Code
- Historic District Design Guidelines
- Historic Resource Review (HRR), Cost and Examples
- I would like to know more about the background of the historic district project and the ENA Board decisions.
- Other concerns
Answers are based on response from the City of Portland’s Bureau of Development Services staff unless noted as Contributor. Contributors are reliable expert sources not representing the City, such as residents of other historic districts in Portland with deep experience in working with their neighborhood and with the City’s review process.
The answers reflect the experience of reviewing past applications using existing regulations and are not advice for a particular application.
As used here, a “contributing resource” is a property identified as having architectural or historic character that contributes to the historic significance of the district. Typically contributing resources are those built during a “period of significance” and/or having associations with significant people or events. All properties change over time. It is not necessary for a property to retain all its historic physical features or characteristics. The property must retain, however, the essential physical features that enable it to convey its historic identity.”Alterations that diminish a property’s integrity of location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling, or association may impact a property’s eligibility. In a historic district, these alterations are generally limited to exterior modifications that are visible from the public right of way. There are many instances for renovations to occur, including those visible to the public that do not diminish the overall integrity or eligibility of a property.
“Non-contributing resources” are properties that do not have architectural or historic character that contributes to the significance of the district; that were built after the period of significance; or were built during the period of significance but have been altered to the point of no longer retaining their original historic character.
Questions about the Historic District nomination process
The short answer is to review the project timeline. (http://historicdistrict.eastmorelandpdx.org/timeline/) To understand more fully, consider the project as having 6 phases.
Phase 1 Preliminaries: Research leading to the decision by the ENA Board to advance the project considering the advantages and challenges and providing a high level of publicity to alert the neighborhood to the decisions. Alert the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) for their advice.
Phase 2 Organize: ENA Board authorizes the Land Use Committee to assemble a managing team to coordinate the process. This includes designing an interview process for architectural historian consultant selection, identifying a project budget, and negotiating contract terms with the selected consultant. Following consultant selection, develop a communications strategy to inform and educate the neighborhood. Inform the City Landmarks Commission and request advice.
Phase 3a. Based on the level of support registered at the public meeting, the Board decides to proceed with developing the district application and authorizes the consultant and consultant trained volunteer teams to complete the inventory and photo documentation of every property, create a deep history for a sampling of characteristic examples, and make a preliminary determination of eligibility (contributing/noncontributing) based on integrity of the resource and other factors. Then begins the formulation of the historical narrative for the significance of the district. During this phase the historic district communication team continues the information and education process through a website, email, social media, and print media.
Phase 3b. Draft Nomination and Initial Review. With survey work substantially complete, the accuracy of the survey work is checked, the eligibility data is mapped and an in depth narrative of the history is researched and developed. The district boundary is determined by the concentration of contributing (or significant) resources, the period of significance established by common historical and thematic characteristics, and the architectural and social significance is identified in the historic context. The survey and narrative documentation are assembled as the draft nomination submittal to the SHPO. This is the basis for the draft National Register nomination. The SHPO accepts the document as eligible for consideration, establishes a project website for the proposed district, and the draft is made public. The initial 75 day review cycle begins.
During the initial SHPO review, adjustments are made to the narrative, eligibility, and the district boundary. Characterization of properties as contributing, non-contributing and other data is reviewed by stakeholders who may request corrections to the survey work at any time prior to final approval by the National Park Service. A revised draft nomination for the historic district is made ready to be presented in a well publicized meeting to all neighborhood stakeholders. This is submitted to both the local government - Portland Landmarks Commission (PLC) as well as the Statewide Commission for Historic Resources (SACHP) for review in preparation for one of their tri-annual meetings. The historic district communication team updates websites and related publicity. The City of Portland provides advisory written notice to all stakeholders concerning the proposed district.
Phase 4. Draft Nomination Review. The draft nomination is presented to the PLC for discussion, public testimony, and advisory recommendations from Commissioners. At the close of the initial review period, a presentation by the applicant's consultant, testimony supporting and opposing the nomination, and reports from the SHPO and SACHP review team is heard by SACHP Commissioners. The SACHP deliberates and makes a binding vote to terminate, postpone, or advance the nomination to the National Park Service based on technical criteria as well a qualitative judgement. A second public review period of 90 days begins. The applicant (ENA Board) issues a non-binding survey/poll of all eligible property owners within the proposed district boundaries to assess the support and opposition for submitting the nomination (by federal law, opposition requires 50% plus 1 notarized letters to terminate). Based on the outcome of governmental reviews described above and considering the results from the survey/poll, the ENA Board decides to terminate, postpone, or advance the nomination. Unless opposed, the consultant team continues work with the SHPO to finalize the proposal.
Phase 5. Nomination Approval. Once the SACHP has recommended that the nomination be advanced, the SHPO proceeds with further review until it deems the recommended corrections and improvements complete. Unless the applicant objects, the nomination for national historic district is forwarded to the National Park Service for their review for the NPS 45 day review. This time is the final opportunity for eligible owners to comment or object. At the end of that cycle, the NPS may approve the nomination or return the nomination for additional improvements.
Phase 6. Protections. Following approval, local government is required to protect National Historic Register properties. This will occur in steps.
-Well publicized presentations by 3 historic district consultants at a regular ENA Board meeting as part of the selection process along with earlier presentations at Board meetings.
-An overview presentation, panel discussion, and Q and A, widely publicized and very well-attended, to orient the homeowners and to weigh neighborhood sentiment;
-Public meeting with the Portland Historic Landmarks Commission to obtain commission input;
-A public information website to serve as a clearinghouse for information concerning the historic district project;
-Articles in ENA newsletter concerning the historic district project;
-Informal discussions held with neighbors by neighborhood volunteers during the historic resource inventory and our annual Fourth of July parade;
-Neighborhood history walks lead by neighborhood historians;
-Restore Oregon public workshop to provide extended Q and A to a neighborhood and city-wide audience.
To understand the viability of a historic district, the ENA has funded an historic resources inventory that will largely be conducted by trained neighborhood residents. The inventory will be reviewed for accuracy by architectural historians retained by the ENA and that will ensure accuracy. The field inventory will help to verify the date of construction, historical integrity, and architectural characteristics of individual resources and make a recommendation on whether the resource contributes or does not contribute to the historical integrity and significance of the inventory area. Once completed, the survey data will be compiled onto a brief report with maps that will depict the initial recommendations concerning contributing and non-contributing status. The report will also propose a historic district boundary. The report will be submitted to the Oregon SHPO for their review and comment and it is anticipated that some changes to contributing/non-contributing status may occur and be posted on the historic district website. Those resources that are situated within the proposed boundary will then be included in the development of a National Register nomination for the historic district. The results of the survey will be shared with the neighborhood at an ENA-sponsored neighborhood workshop. After the workshop, a non-binding poll of all properties within the proposed boundaries will be used to determine the level of support for submitting the nomination. Based on information from the poll, the ENA Board will decide to terminate or advance the nomination. If advanced, the consultant team will continue to work with the SHPO to refine the proposal.
If advanced by the ENA, the National Register nomination will be submitted to the Oregon SHPO in November 2016 for placement on the February 2017 agenda of the State Advisory Committee on Historic Preservation (SACHP) which considers National Register nominations for the state. A public meeting sponsored by the ENA will precede the SACHP meeting and the SACHP meeting itself will be public as well. Additional meetings of the SACHP may be required. If approved by the SACHP, the nomination would be revised to address the SACHP’s comments and is then forwarded on the National Park Service’s (NPS) National Register program for review.
It should be noted that the historic district boundaries and contributing/non-contributing status may be revised to address comments from the Oregon SHPO, SACHP, and NPS at any time during this process so it is important for neighborhood residents to remain engaged in the nomination process as it moves forward. Please check the historic district website above for project updates.
- Property’s address
- A photograph of the house/garage/details/landscape features that are the source of the requested edit. Photographs may include historic photographs that show how the property has evolved (or not evolved) over time. A sequence of snipped Google Streetview images from between (2007-2016) may also help if changes have occurred recently.
- Copies of any building permits that demonstrate the scope/magnitude of exterior building modifications (just documents that demonstrate where changes occurred).
- A copy of a Sanborn Fire Insurance map of your property that shows how the property site plan was shown in the mid-1920s and again in 1950. These are available under the research tab of the Multnomah County Library website.
In an historic district, what changes would I be able to make on my property? [Note: This section does not apply unless design guidelines are adopted.]
Historic Resource Review (HRR), Cost and Process
Each application begins with a completeness review targeted to last 14 days, but that may last as long as 30 days. After an application is deemed complete, a public notice is mailed to neighboring property owners and the neighborhood association.
A Type I Review for alterations that affect less than 150 square feet of façade area is $250. The review requires a two-week comment period, after which time a decision may be issued. There is no appeal period for a Type I review. Review time for a Type I review is about 35 days. For more details, see the City's process description.
For Type II Review for exterior alterations (no new footprint) the minimum is $991 rising as a described percentage to $5,066. For a project that expands the footprint, fees begin at $2,078 and rise to $5,818. A Type II application requires a three-week comment period. After the decision is issued, there is a two-week appeal period. Ideally, the total review time for a Type II review is about 56 days. For more details, see the City's process description.
Type III Review applies to new construction and may equal a minimum of $9,381. A Type III review is longer, requires a public hearing, and is unlikely to be required for anything less than construction of a new single dwelling or larger building. For more details, see the City's process description.
Disclaimer: These numbers are a guide; individual projects may result in different amounts. Fees are in addition to fees charged by other service bureaus for reviews normally associated with the plan review and building permit process. Depending on planner workload and the complexity of the proposal, review periods may be longer than anticipated.
Note: Type I reviews are NOT subject to appeal to the Landmarks Commission or to City Council. The Preservation Community gave up the right of appeal on those reviews in return for an accelerated timeline for the approval. (In theory they are appeal-able to the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA), but the cost and delay of such appeals makes that a non-option for typical small Type I review cases. (Contributor)
How will Historic District status affect the neighborhood?
Portland Historic Resources Code
Historic District Design Guidelines
2) Once listed in the National Register by NPS, the city will require review for future modifications that fall under the City's design review requirements. If a building permit for modifications is pulled prior to the NPS listing of a historic district, the city would honor the "pre-listing" permit and the modifications could be made.
3) If modifications occur between the time of the survey and historic district approval that damage the historic integrity, it may cause the property to be removed from the contributing category. (Contributor)
Historic Resource Review (HRR), Cost and Examples [Note: This section does not apply unless design guidelines are adopted.]
The Type I HRR review has a fixed maximum fee of $250. Type I reviews apply to: a) projects that are entirely "restoration," regardless of size; b) most external ADU projects; and c) projects where the alterations affect less than 150 square feet of surface area. The latter has been interpreted generously by BDS to favor selection of the Type I path where reasonably possible. (Contributor)
If your million-dollar project spills over the 150 square-foot limit in exterior modifications -- let's say there is a dormer to be added to the second floor which, with the windows gets over 150 square feet of exterior wall, the fee is still based on the cost of the exterior alterations ONLY and will start at $925 since there is no increase in footprint (Tier C pricing).
Another example: For a $225,000 ADU addition in a basement, the Building Permit cost is under $5,500. Without the ADU exemption, the cost would have added $8,000 for the System Development Charges alone. The HRR fee? $250.
Again, the valuation used for determining value and fees for HRR is based on the City's estimate of the cost of those alterations to the exterior that are covered by the HRR process ONLY, regardless of the cost of interior work. (Contributor)
I would like to know more about the background of the historic district project and the ENA Board decisions.
During the February 2016 Board meeting the Land Use Committee was authorized to interview and solicit proposals from three qualified historic district consultants. All presented at the widely advertised and well attended March 17 Board meeting held at Reed College. Following those informative presentation interviews, the Board was presented with an overall project budget of approximately $55,000 during the April Board Retreat. A non-binding vote at that meeting authorized negotiations with AECOM to enter into agreement and authorized a budget of $10,000 to carry the project through a first phase focused on the May 26 public workshop. At the regular April Board meeting the approval was again ratified with a single dissent. The agreement with AECOM was signed in April 22, 2016 and work began.
The May 26 Proposed Historic District Workshop was designed to educate the neighborhood about the advantages and challenges ahead. It was publicized with every available medium including a lengthy article in the Spring 2016 ENA Newsletter. The workshop was held in Duniway school and attended by over 250 neighbors who, by any measure, were supportive of the Board’s direction. During the May 2016 Board meeting the Board voted to proceed with the second contingency in the AECOM agreement authorizing the architectural survey of the neighborhood and related expenses.