PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) – The Portland City Council heard testimony Wednesday morning regarding a proposed change to unreinforced masonry building enforcement.
Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty last month asked Portland Fire & Rescue to pause the unreinforced masonry signage requirement, which would direct owners of old brick buildings in Portland to post signs by their front doors that say the building may not be safe if a big earthquake hits.
Hardesty says she doesn’t want to do away with the placards, but she does want to extend the timeline; with a time extension, she argues the city can look for wats to offer financial support to business people so they can afford to make expensive earthquake safety upgrades to their buildings. Hardesty wants to set up a committee to work on the issue and extend the placard deadline to November 2020.
Some building owners at City Hall Wednesday said they want the ordinance repealed altogether. Roger Jones with the Hawthorne Boulevard Business Association spoke out against the placards.
“The placarding issue will basically create a stigma for our district and any district in the city,” Jones said.
Musicians have also spoken out against the URM ordinance and say they are worried about some iconic music venues closing down. Several pastors from old churches in Portland have also voiced concerns, saying they are concerned that they will have to demolish their old churches.
There are about 1,600 unreinforced masonry buildings in Portland.
The city says it will hold a second hearing next week. The three city commissioners at the meeting Wednesday said they believe the Hardesty ordinance will pass and building owners will get more time.
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