Debated Historic District Proposal

Eastmoreland residents are heavily debating the proposal to claim historic district status. The proposal was potentially spurred by the housing shortage and affordability crisis. Since the neighborhood is centrally located, less dense, and home prices reach well into the $700’s, Eastmoreland has seen a good degree of growth over recent years. This has caused some members of the community to push for some sort of control. These residents are fighting for fewer demolitions and renovations, arguing against zoning policies that call for increased density. In the past decade, only 9 homes have been demolished or proposed for demolition and they don’t want to see that rate change; they worry if no restrictions are in place, developers and investors will be allowed to come in, people who want to disrupt the integrity of the neighborhood and potentially throw up “McMansions” for a quick and hefty return.

Some argue however, taking on the Historic District status would be too restrictive and unnecessary. The opposition group, “Keep Eastmoreland Free,” has already collected more than 500 objection letters, arguing that the historic preservation rules would restrict a homeowners property rights. According to Portland, historic districts cannot be demolished or renovated without extensive review from the city which may limit owners from some needed or desired home improvements. However, Oregon’s rules in these districts are a little more lenient in that any properties that are “non-contributing” to the district (homes built after the 1960s) wouldn’t have to conform to these constraints.

Portland is currently home to 5 nationally recognized historic districts (which include The Alphabet District, Kings Hill, & Irvington) with a few other neighborhoods locally recognized as being historic. Forming a historic district doesn’t require resident’s consent, as long as the necessary fees are paid by someone. However, residents can object with a notarized letter to prevent one from taking shape. If the State Advisory Committee on Historic Preservation offers its approval, the proposal will then go to the National Parks Service for listing on the National Register of Historic Places (that is if half of the residents do not object).

The parks service is expected to make a decision July 6.