PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The ongoing debate about seismic placards for the scores of unreinforced masonry buildings in Portland will take center stage at Wednesday’s City Council meeting.

A Bureau of Emergency Management proposal to form a committee will now be heard as an emergency ordinance, said the bureau’s Dan Douthit. That means the City Council can now take testimony about the plan and vote on it the same day.

Bureau leaders hope its new proposal will lead to an incentive program that will sweeten the pot enough to convince building owners to fork out the money to retrofit their buildings.

Interactive map of unreinforced masonry buildings in Portland

“We want to work collaboratively with the community to make sure it’s done right,” Douthit told KOIN 6 News on October 18. “We know this is a long game. It is going to take 20 -30 years to do this right.”​

Douthit said the city wants to move away from a mandatory retrofit policy for private building owners, to voluntary upgrades to those dangerous buildings.

He said the city will continue to pursue a mandatory retrofit policy for public buildings – including schools.​​

If approved the ordinance would also remove one of the most contentious parts of the city’s current ordinance: requiring owners of unreinforced masonry buildings to post signs warning they are dangerous in earthquakes.​

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