Wednesday, December 10, 2014

SIGN THE PETITION! (to protect park and reservoirs)

To see and sign, click here:

Petition: Protect Mt. Tabor’s Historic Park and Historic Reservoirs

We the undersigned request authorities with Oregon’s State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) and with Portland’s Historic Landmarks Commission (HLC), help the community protect the nationally recognized historic resources on Mt. Tabor, which include the nationally registered Historic Mount Tabor Park and the nationally registered Mount Tabor Reservoir Historic District.

We the undersigned value this Historic Park and these Historic Reservoir features central to that park, for the American story they preserve and for the functional-beauty they bring to the lives of every Portlander.

We the undersigned fully support the comments and requests made to your respective bodies by the Mt. Tabor Neighborhood Association in November 2014, regarding the proposal to disconnect the historic reservoirs from Portland’s drinking water system.  We find this proposal will seriously impact the historic reservoir assets, as well as the historic park within which these reservoirs sit.

We the undersigned make the following requests to SHPO and to HLC:

1) Please provide rigorous process and outside oversight of the plan to disconnect the reservoirs from Portland’s drinking water system;
2) Please take all actions available to protect the historic character, aesthetic and record of use of the entire Tabor site;
3) Please mandate water as a feature central to any future-use of the historic site;
4) Please honor the preservation ethic of reversibility, by scrutinizing this disconnection plan for every avenue by which it could be made more affordably reversible;
6) Please use all measures available to ensure good preservation planning and preservation funding for this site going forward.

(The Mt. Tabor Neighborhood Association continues to maintain that this disconnection is unnecessary.  However, we have involved ourselves in the disconnection construction planning process to ensure that plan is respectful of the historic reservoirs and the historic park.  We find the disconnection proposal as written flawed.  MTNA comments to HLC are available here: .   MTNA’s comments to SHPO are available here: .)

Monday, December 8, 2014

Notice to Demolish - 1924 SE 50th Ave

MTNA received a written "intent to demolish" notice on Dec 6, regarding one of the properties on SE 50th.  The letter and the "request to delay" form are linked below.  We have unofficially heard that a developer, is buying several parcels/houses along SE 50th, with the intent to build multi-unit housing. A few nearby examples of this developer's work include: SE 37th and Division, one currently under construction on Cesar Chavez between Belmont and Stark, and a building at 29th and Burnside.

Bob Kellett of SE Uplift tells us:
The petition for delay gives the neighborhood association the right to ask for a 120-day delay before a demolition permit is granted. The reason MT Tabor Neighborhood Association received this is that one of the properties (1924 SE 50th) is in a residential zone (R1) and the intent is to replace a single family home with multiple units. The purpose of this is to give people a chance to save viable housing by purchasing a property, moving a property or through some other means. You should note that the request for delay has to come from the neighborhood or business association. They have to submit the request, but anyone can try to save a house/seek alternatives after the delay is granted. Here is the link to the applicable code:

MTNA does not currently have any plans to act on this.  If neighbors want to investigate this tool (the delay request), try contacting the planner listed on the form (Karen Perkins) and Bob Kellett with SE Uplift.  Contact me immediately if you would like MTNA to vote on a delay, so that you can move the house in question. 

Notice to demolish, delay request form:

Friday, December 5, 2014

Reservoir Debrief - public hearing before the Historic Landmarks Commission

On Monday, Dec 1, the Tabor Disconnect construction project had it's Historic Resources land use review at a public hearing in front of the Historic Landmarks Commission.  It was a long but productive day (many of us were there for the full 6 hour hearing session).

The volunteers that sit on the Historic Landmarks Commission are professionals with historic preservation specialties within their respective fields.  They asked the kinds of questions MTNA hoped they would ask, and they asked for more detail on many of the same issues about which MTNA would like more detail.  They delayed their decision until a future hearing on Jan 12, 2012, so that they could 1) hear from stakeholders and 2) gather more data.  Water Bureau is to supply the HLC with the requested data before the Christmas break, likely around Dec 23.  

Additional data requested by HLC:
  • Comments from the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), now reviewing this case
  • City Council's "future-use" plan decision
  • A look at the City's legacy plans for the reservoir assets (roles, responsibilities)
  • Cost estimate, scope of work for reversing the disconnection
  • A formal review of site by a professional geo-archeologist
  • Yearly cost to keep reservoirs between .5 and .75 full (normal fill range is .5 to .75)
  • Yearly cost for functional-maintenance at the reservoirs
  • Cost to complete deferred preservation-maintenance listed in the 2009 Mt. Tabor Historic Structures Report
  • An analysis of the current "Use Determination," if it is still valid given the changes at the site.  They wanted to hear from the City Attorney and BDS on this point.
Many items in the HLC case file are available online, including the staff report from BDS, visual aids used in presentations given at the hearing, and an audio file of the hearing:

Documentary filmmaker Brad Yazzolino has made video footage of the hearing available here:

For time/date of the next public hearing, see HLC agendas here:

Next Steps
Next steps just got a little confusing, since Portland Commissioners Fish and Fritz decided to postpone their future-use plan announcement scheduled for Dec 10.  The Historic Landmarks Commissioners want to see the Parks/Water Bureau future-use plan, before HLC makes their decision; Fish and Fritz now want to wait for HLC's decision in the land use case before they announce their future-use proposal.

MTNA will make our concerns about this project known to the State Historic Preservation Office, and work for more involvement from them.   I encourage others to advocate for the conditions and mandates found in MTNA comments on this case (you can read our comments here: ).  Advocate by signing the petition!!! Go here: