Portland Comm. Jo Ann Hardesty
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News Release
Portland Commissioner Hardesty Files Ordinance to Amend Unreinforced Masonry Building Rules; Recruitment for New URM Work Group Kicks Off - 02/15/19

Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty filed an ordinance amending the process and timeline for placing earthquake warning signs on unreinforced masonry (URM) buildings and notifying tenants about the danger. The first reading will be on Feb 20 and the second reading Feb 27.

On October 10, 2018, the City Council passed Ordinance No. 189201 that, among other actions, requires property owners of unreinforced masonry buildings to post a warning sign in a public place near the main entrance and notify future tenants that the building may be unsafe in the event of a major earthquake.  It also requires the owner to record evidence of compliance with the county Recorder’s Office. 

 “I am asking for changes to the URM ordinance because building owners have told me loud and clear that they don’t understand the new rules and they don’t see how retrofitting will be possible for them financially,” said Commissioner Hardesty.  “With an expanded timeline, we will look for ways to offer financial support for these important safety upgrades and give building owners more time to examine the inventory.  I also want to simplify the process for documenting compliance.  This will improve the situation for owners and make the rules easier to understand and enforce in the future.” 

The ordinance Commissioner Hardesty filed extends the timeline for most buildings to comply with the sign and notification requirements, and it eliminates the requirement to record anything with the title.  Specifically, changes are to:

  • extend the timeline required for posting a warning sign for all privately-owned buildings to November 1, 2020;
  • modify the tenant notification requirement so that landlords are required to notify prospective tenants that a building is URM when they complete a rental application, rather than when they sign the lease;
  • set a deadline of June 1, 2019 for landlords to begin notifying prospective tenants;
  • modify the required documentation of compliance so that URM building owners do not need to record their agreement with the county Recorder’s Office.

A new committee to discuss URM policy is now open for applications. Those interested can apply at:


For more information about the urm project see: https://www.portlandoregon.gov/pbem/urm

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