A2 Monday, July 21, 2014 The Oregonian
Builder finds a way around demolition limit
By Melissa Binder firstname.lastname@example.org
Responding to residents concerned about a rise in home demolitions citywide, Portland in April created a new requirement: Developers obtaining a building permit to replace an old house with two or more new ones had to wait 35 days and notify neighbors.
Opponents were skeptical and predicted developers would find a loophole. They were right.
Renaissance Homes applied to demolish a 1949 ranch at 3620 S.E. Rural Street and build two homes. The Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association was notified, as required, and requested an additional 120 days to talk with the developers about the design.
Renaissance owner Randy Sebastian canceled his application to build two new houses and submitted one requesting to build one house. “We’re going to build two houses eventually,” he said. “I’m just starting with one now.”
There is no rule preventing developers from splitting a lot after demolishing ahome based on an application to build only one replacement.
Robert McCullough, president of the Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association, parked his car in front of the driveway of the property on Thursday, blocking demolition equipment.
“Playing ping pong with the rules is not acceptable,” he said. “There is either one structure going in or there are two.”
Police threatened to tow McCullough’s car if the developer requested it. When Sebastian arrived on-site, he and McCullough negotiated. Sebastian ultimately agreed to postpone the demolition one week.
McCullough said the real purpose of Thursday’s protest was to get the city’s attention.
Sebastian said he doesn’t feel bad at all about finding a way around the new “hurdle.” His company pays interest every day, he said, making demolition delays costly.
BETH NAKAMURA/THE OREGONIAN
Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association President Robert McCullough uses his car to block the driveway to the entrance of 3620 S.E. Rural Street and delay its demolition.