Historic District Updates
LAURELHURST IS LISTED!
We got the word. The Laurelhurst Historic District was officially listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
See the FAQ below for details on what the historic district and what it means.
This is the result of an almost 30-year effort, started a generation ago in 1991, kept alive by dedicated residents, and finally pushed home to completion through the efforts of many hundreds of Laurelhurst residents with overwhelming neighborhood support. Our neighborhood is now a National Register Historic District.
On September 20, 2019 please come to a neighborhood celebration of Laurelhurst’s history and the Laurelhurst Historic District. Stay tuned for details.
New families join us here every year. Let them know what a historic neighborhood they live in and bring them to the celebration.
For Additional Historic District Updates, specifically the survey, report, and nomination - visit the survey page.
Information below is listed in order of accomplishment.
We reached our fundraising goal! Thank you to all the volunteers who helped us raise our goal of $60,000! Many hours of work were put into meeting this goal, and several hundred Laurelhurst households contributed. You are all amazing!
Nomination and survey completed. The nomination and survey, were completed on time and on budget, and submitted to the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO). You can view or download the nomination, survey, and map at SHPO's website. To learn more about how the survey and nomination were done, see here. SHPO and the City held a meeting to explain the process from here, and to answer questions, on August 30 at All Saints. Slides are here and here. We will have video from the meeting available soon.
SACHP Approves Nomination. The nomination was reviewed by the State Advisory Committee on Historic Preservation (SACHP) at its public meeting in Portland on October 19, 2018. The SACHP voted unanimously to approve our nomination. That means our nomination will be forwarded the Keeper of the National Register in January 2019 UNLESS over 50% of homeowners have submitted objections (see below).
HLC Supports Nomination. The nomination was be reviewed by the Portland Historic Landmarks Commission (HLC) at its public meeting in Portland on October 8, 2018. The HLC voted to support our nomination, via an advisory letter to SHPO.
"Objection Period" Is Over. From August to January, every homeowner in the district was able to send a letter to SHPO objecting to, or supporting, the historic district. SHPO sent a notice to all houses explaining the process. If over 50% of homeowners objected, the nomination would have been halted. This is an important part of the nomination process.
SHPO reports that, in total, 14 valid objections were submitted. These objections represent fewer than ten district households. Three objections were from owners not living in Laurelhurst. In total, SHPO received objections from about one half of one percent (0.5%) of district homeowners.
Nomination Sent To National Park Service. On January 28, 2019, SHPO sent the nomination to the National Park Service (NPS) for review and final action. This action was delayed by about two weeks, due to the partial Federal government shutdown. NPS is expected to publish the nomination in the Federal Register.
Awaiting Final Action by Keeper of the National Register of Historic Places. The Keeper, at the National Park Service, will make the final decision whether to list the Laurelhurst Historic District. That decision is expected to be made within 45 days after publication in the Federal Register. The 45th day is expected to be in late March 2019.
Laurelhurst Historic District Listed. On March 18, 2019, the National Park Service listed the Laurelhurst Historic District in the National Register. This action was published on March 22.
Effect of Listing as Historic District. See FAQ below. Also, a comment on the Laurelhurst arches. The arches will be designated as historically protected structures if the Historic District is listed. This should make them eligible for historic preservation grants and the LNA's Arches Committee is working on this.
Laurelhurst House Tour a Success! On September 9, we held the first Laurelhurst House Tour, the start of an annual tradition. The tour was a success with over 560 tickets sold! Funds raised will go to the LNA for neighborhood use. Please join our next tour.
Laurelhurst Added to City Online Map of Historic Resources. See map here.
KPTV12 video about Laurelhurst Historic District. Online here.
Laurelhurst National Register
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How did Laurelhurst become a Historic District?
A: The Laurelhurst neighborhood voted in 2017 (83% in favor) to seek listing of Laurelhurst as a Historic District in the National Register of Historic Places, which is the list of our nation's most historic places and landmarks. During 2017-2018, the neighborhood raised funds, retained a consultant, prepared and submitted a nomination to the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO). SHPO conducted a formal public objection period (less than 0.5% of owners objected). The Portland Historic Landmarks Commission (PHLC) and State Advisory Committee for Historic Preservation conducted public hearings and approved the nomination. SHPO forwarded the nomination to the National Parks Service (NPS) who listed Laurelhurst in the National Register of Historic Places in March 2019.
Q: What are the boundaries of the Historic District?
A: The district includes all of the Laurelhurst neighborhood, except the properties bordering NE Sandy, the properties north of NE Sandy, and the properties bordering SE 32rd between SE Ankeny and SE Stark. See map here. The city's online map is here.
Q: Will the Historic District affect demolitions?
A: Yes. Historically contributing houses in the district will be protected by "demolition review". That means the city must hold a public hearing and approve the demolition, before the house may be demolished. About 75% of houses in the district are contributing. To see if a house is contributing, see the city's online map here: blue lots mean the house is contributing, yellow means the house is non contributing. Non-contributing houses are not subject to demolition review. Important: LNA is not responsible for errors in the city's online map. To verify contributing or non-contributing status and the details of demolition review, contact the city directly.
Q: Does demolition review apply to garages?
A: For right now, yes - if a garage is "contributing". However, the city is in the process of changing its historic code to reduce or eliminate any review required for garage demolition. City staff expect those changes to be approved by city council early in 2020.
Q: Will the Historic District affect remodeling?
A: No. There will be no "design review", meaning no restrictions on remodeling, additions, etc that do not involve demolishing the house. (Unless the homeowner chooses to apply for the special tax benefits available for rehabilitating historic houses.) The neighborhood can choose to seek design review in the future, but it will require city council approval and a neighborhood vote. This is different from previous historic districts in Portland, which have both demolition review and design review. See city of Portland explanation here.
Q: Will the Historic District affect taxes?
A: No. (Unless the homeowner chooses to apply for the special tax benefits available for rehabilitating historic houses.)
Q: Will the Historic District restrict my use of my house?
A: No. There is no federal or state restriction on ordinary homeowner uses of a house, other than demolition review. (Unless the homeowner chooses to apply for the special tax benefits available for rehabilitating historic houses.) Certain projects that require federal agency approval may receive additional review (e.g. siting cellphone towers).
Q: Where can I find the Nomination and other documents?
A: At SHPO's website here.
Q: I have more questions.
A: Email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Update June 13, 2017 Motion Passed at Board Meeting
In light of the overwhelming support to designate Laurelhurst as a Historic District (as illustrated by the declaration results), the Board is pursuing the next step in the HD process. The LNA board passed the following resolution on June 13, 2017. The board anticipates the process of obtaining historic district listing is likely to take at least a year. Please look for a progress report in the next newsletter issue.
Based on the February 14, 2017 LNA Board Resolution in support of seeking National Historic District status for the Laurelhurst neighborhood;
And based on a substantial majority of Laurelhurst respondents having declared support for seeking National Historic District status as demonstrated to the LNA Board on June 13, 2017;
"The LNA Board directs the Ad Hoc Exploratory Historic District Committee to plan and execute necessary steps to prepare a nomination for listing Laurelhurst as a National Historic District including steps to raise funds, select consultants, conduct surveys, and draft necessary documents for relevant agencies and offices, subject to the LNA Board's ongoing review and approval of the expenditure of funds, of the overall plan and of each formal action."
Update June 13, 2017 Results of Declaration of Support or Opposition
Earlier this year, the LNA asked Laurelhurst residents and property owners to declare if they supported or opposed our neighborhood becoming a Historic District.
Declaration forms were included in the May newsletter delivered to every address in the neighborhood, distributed at the May 30 LNA board election. Neighborhood groups ("Historic Laurelhurst" and "Laurelhurst Forward") also distributed declarations to residents in person.
In total, 1,817 completed declarations were received by May 30, 2017 and counted. A majority of Laurelhurst households submitted declarations. If a person submitted multiple declarations, only the latest-dated declaration was counted. If a person owned multiple properties and noted that on the declaration, that person’s declaration was counted once per property. Declarations were counted from both property owners and residents (over 18 years of age) who do not own property. The count was performed by neighborhood volunteers under the supervision of Southeast Uplift.
April 11, 2017 - Board Meeting
Last summer the LNA board began exploring the possibility of becoming a historic district. After receiving the report of its exploratory committee, the board expressed approval of historic district status for Laurelhurst but agreed not to spend LNA funds and not to support a nomination without being convinced that the community favored such action. One means of ascertaining community views on the historic district question is the declaration. The Following is a resolution to that declaration from the April Board Meeting.
the LNA board wishes to maximize the opportunities for residents to express their views on whether the board should unconditionally support nominating Laurelhurst for historic district status with the National Register of Historic Places, and
the LNA board wishes to refrain from making specific commitments that would extend beyond its current term, which ends on May 30, 2017,
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the LNA board
will make available on its website, in the May Newsletter, and at the May 30, 2017 general membership meeting declarations which residents and property owners can use to express support for or opposition to an historic district;
will encourage individuals who have not yet expressed their views about whether Laurelhurst should become an historic district to submit declarations to the board;
will require that the declarations include names and addresses to ensure that individuals who express their support for or opposition to historic district status by other means (e.g., prior emails or signed petitions) are not double-counted;
will encourage the new board that will be elected on May 30 to consider all declarations received through May 30, 2017, as well as expressions of support for or opposition to an historic district contained in petitions, other declarations, letters, and emails submitted to the board, in deciding the next steps to take in addressing the historic district question; and
will encourage the new board to adopt a process for tabulating all declarations, petitions, letters, and emails to minimize any risk of double-counting supporters or opponents and to ensure the accuracy and integrity of the results (perhaps, e.g., by having the tabulators include both an historic district supporter and an historic district opponent).
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that
with the exception of the yet to be determined mailing address, the declaration form accompanying or attached to this resolution is an accurate representation of the declaration that will appear online, in the newsletter, and at the May 30 general membership meeting,
the web-manager will be responsible for ensuring that the declaration is posted on the LNA website and for announcing the existence of the declaration on the LNA Facebook page and on Nextdoor in a post that is not open for comments,
the Newsletter editor will be responsible for ensuring that copies of the declaration are included in the May Newsletter, and
the address, yet to be determined, will be either a Southeast Uplift address approved by Southeast Uplift or a mail box rented by the LNA, the cost of which the board hereby approves.
A friendly amendment was added; the declaration form will be modified to have a third choice of “UNDECIDED” and to add a line for the resident to write comments if they wish.
February 14, 2017 - Board Meeting
At its February 14, 2017 Board meeting, the LNA Board adopted a resolution, SUBJECT TO TWO IMPORTANT CAVEATS, to pursue nominating Laurelhurst for the National Register Historic District Listing. The Board’s resolution states:
"The LNA Board, by a majority vote, believes that a National Register Historic District listing is in the best interest of the neighborhood;
The LNA Board unanimously believes a National Register Historic District listing should not be filed unless a majority of the neighborhood supports it;”
The resolution further states that unless the Board “feels confident that a majority of the neighborhood supports historic district status,” the Board (1) will NOT file the nomination and (2) will NOT expend any LNA funds to further the nomination process.
The Board has devoted substantial time in the last three general meetings and substantial space in recent Newsletters to historic district issues. Nonetheless, on the basis of attending neighborhood meetings and speaking with neighbors, Board members are persuaded that many in our community are insufficiently aware of the ramifications – both pro and con – of achieving historic district status and, therefore, that any kind of survey at this point would have little meaning.
The Board hopes that its provisional support for a historic district will generate broader interest in the subject. In the meantime, the Board has pledged “to work to inform residents of the relevant issues, facts, and considerations through a fair, transparent, and inclusive process.” We want to be sure the information we provide is accurate, and we will be vigilant in correcting false claims by both opponents and proponents of an historic district.
Please set aside time to read the full resolution and the Historic District Committee's report. The Board also created this update at the April 11, 2017 meeting.
The Board believes that it is appropriate to begin the historic district nomination process now for several reasons:
Timing and demolitions
It will take at least a year and probably longer for Laurelhurst to obtain historic district status. In recent years demolitions have increased throughout the city. At least 30 houses in Laurelhurst have been wholly or partially demolished in the past 10 years. The residential infill proposals (RIP), which will become effective later this year, provide added incentives for demolitions by allowing duplexes on all lots and triplexes corner lots, and cottage clusters on double lots. Individuals have varying view about the extent to which future demolitions are likely to occur in Laurelhurst; but, it will not take many more demolitions to irrevocably change the character of the neighborhood.
Obtaining historic district status will immediately subject all structures that contribute to the historic nature of the district to demolition review. As a result, it will be very difficult for developers to demolish these homes and replace them with structures that do not conform to the character of the neighborhood.
As a result of a January 2017 amendment to the state’s historic preservation rules (Goal 5), there will NOT be any immediate design review if Laurelhurst becomes an historic district. This means that rehabilitation and construction projects will be subject only to the permitting rules that currently exist for all properties.
Design review will come only if the city – with input from Laurelhurst – has developed and promulgated design review criteria. The process will take, probably, several years. [Edit 8/13/18: to date, the city still does not have a process to do this. The city has stated that any future process will require city council consent as well as neighborhood consent.] The LNA Board has committed itself “to participate actively with neighborhood residents, the city, and other neighborhood associations to ensure that any design review guidelines are appropriate for the neighborhood and not unduly burdensome.”
The Board supports the goal of creating more – and more affordable – housing in Portland. Toward that end, the Board has endorsed internal conversions to yield new duplexes – i.e., it has endorsed projects that do not require demolition. The Board is skeptical, however, that RIP’s effective re-zoning of single-family homes for duplexes, triplexes, and cottage clusters will produce affordable units. If developers follow past practices, and there is no reason believe they won’t, they will target relatively inexpensive homes and replace them with more expensive units. That will neither alleviate the affordable housing shortage nor preserve the city’s livability and historic assets.
The Board believes that immediate protection against demolitions, along with the possibility in the future of reasonable design standards that Laurelhurst can help shape, provides the best available option for protecting Laurelhurst’s unique and architecturally significant character.