PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Should the Eastmoreland neighborhood become Portland’s next historic district?
Thomas Hansen, president of the Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association, says yes. He believes adding the neighborhood to the National Register of Historic Places will help protect it from the demolition and rebuilding associated with Portland’s population boom.
“I wouldn’t call it a fear,” Hansen explained. “A concern that a historic neighborhood… in the next couple decades or generations will no longer have this feel and look.”
Other neighborhoods are fighting for the same designation for similar reasons.
Peacock Lane residents started the “expensive, lengthy” process to preserve the charming street and keep out developers looking to split lots and build more homes.
Hansen says lot-splitting is one of the biggest concerns he and other neighbors have.
“It’s bothersome to them to see functional homes torn down, to see houses that are crowding the lot lines,” he said. “[Converting] single-family neighborhoods into multi-family neighborhoods by adding duplexes, triplexes, small clusters of houses on large lots.”
But not all neighbors are convinced designating the Eastmoreland neighborhood as a historic district is the best solution.
Some say the designation will handcuff homeowners, in a sense, when it comes to things like making changes to their homes.
Neighbors like Gail Huggett worry the rules that come with a historic designation will prevent changes that could make homes more environmentally friendly.
“It produces a static, pre-energy efficient building code. That’s the way I see it,” Huggett said. “Preventing improvements that are not frozen in time with whatever the rules will be. And we don’t know what the rules will be.”
Homeowners in historic districts are typically required to get city approval before doing anything that could change the exterior appearance of their homes. But those requests for approval require fees, which can be at least a couple hundred dollars.
Getting approval from the state and the National Parks Department to add Eastmoreland to the National Register of Historic Places could take at least a year.