Restore Oregon has asked us to help get the word out about the Public Participation in Preservation Act and how these potential changes could help "fix Oregon's broken system of historic preservation." SB 927 would align management of historic resources with the rest of our land use laws, repeal the state-wide owner consent law and encourage communities to adopt historic resource programs that identify, designate and protect historic resources via public process.
While Astoria has already developed and adopted a historic resource program, we are in favor of encouraging other communities in Oregon to do the same. We hope SB 927 will provide direction for communities throughout the state, encourage public participation and ultimately save historic sites and structures.
During Astoria's most recent historic property inventory, the city provided notice to owners allowing them to "opt-out" of any resulting landmark designations. Nothing in SB 927 would prohibit the city from continuing to provide property owners with an “opt-out” option during future inventory projects. The game-changer is that it would allow the city to adopt code changes in the future (via public process) that could potentially grant historic designation against the wishes of the owner. These changes in our development code would happen only if our community decided that such code changes were necessary to protect our resources.
We imagine that the most significant potential change would be in cases of undesignated, historically significant buildings that appear at-risk for demolition. This law would allow our city to involve all members of the community who would be impacted by the potential loss. It would allow our local decision-makers the ability to designate these buildings (if they meet objective criteria for determining historic significance) as local landmarks. Once designated, any request to demolish these properties would be reviewed by our Historic Landmarks Commission and hopefully, solutions other than demolition could be found.
SB 929 creates valuable economic incentives for the rehabilitation of historic properties that will be used as multi-unit housing or for qualified seismic retrofitting of Unreinforced Masonry Buildings. SB 929 will save landmark buildings throughout Oregon by incentivizing historically appropriate renovation while creating needed housing and improving public safety.