Historic District Myths:
As developers who are opponents to Historic District designation begin spreading “alternate facts” which are not facts at all, we wanted to present the actual facts, backed up by documentation and research, to show that HD designation is not a burden on the homeowner, but helps promote livability, preserve the environment, and is beneficial for property values.
Myth: Under Historic District guidelines, I wouldn’t be able to make any changes to my house inside or out without getting approval from some bureau or council.
Fact: Only some exterior building and renovations may be subject to the historic review process. Changes made to the interior of homes are NOT subject to any historic review process. Historic Irvington has a great document explaining the historic review process and what may or may not need historic review. Here are some other examples of renovations that are exempt from historic review.
- Interior paint jobs and remodeling.
- Storm and screen window/door additions or removals.
- Construction of a detached accessory structure with 200 square feet or less of floor area when that structure is at least 40 feet from a front property line and, if on a corner lot, at least 25 feet from a side street lot line.
- Alterations to non-contributing resources on non-street facing facades where alterations on all facades total less than 150 square feet.
Myth: Historic District permits are expensive.
Fact: While normal building and remodeling permits can cost thousands and big remodeling jobs can cost hundreds of thousands, historic district permits typically cost $250. The city of Portland recently reduced the fee structure and increased the number of city employees able to help with the permit process in response to input from Irvington residents.
Myth: New construction offsets the environmental effects of demolition and new houses are better for the environment than older ones.
Fact: Old homes have a level of craftsmanship and materials that cannot be matched today. When they are demolished, huge amounts of materials hit landfills, a negative effect which takes decades to offset even by new building practices.
Myth: Historic Districts are undemocratic.
Fact: Supporting historic designation is a grassroots, neighbor-to-neighbor effort. The majority of people who chose to live among these beautiful houses are voting to protect them.
Myth: Historic Districts are a means to avoid density.
Fact: Under historic designation, expansion of housing capacity will not be compromised. More than 20 percent of Eastmoreland homes will be eligible for infill expansion to meet community needs.