Portland, OR, August 4, 2016 – The Oregon State Supreme Court affirmed a Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA) ruling that limits a property owner's ability to remove a local historic designation from its property, significantly reducing the chances that structures will be demolished.
Carrie Richter and Jennifer Bragar of GSB’s Portland office advised Restore Oregon and Architectural Heritage Center in the preparation of the amicus curiae brief – the first in the organizations’ histories. This followed a February 2015 Oregon Court of Appeals ruling in Lake Oswego Preservation Society v. City of Lake Oswego, in which the Court had overturned an earlier LUBA decision that would, in effect, allow the owners of Lake Oswego’s oldest property, the Carman House, to de-list it from the local historic registry for future demolition.
The issue at hand was the interpretation of Oregon’s historic property designation consent statute, ORS 197.772, which provides that the owners of properties slated for local historic designation have the right to refuse to consent to that designation. The statue also requires a local government to “allow a property owner to remove from the property a historic property designation that was imposed on the property by the local government.” ORS 197.772(3). In the State Supreme Court’s decision, it confirmed “that the right to remove a historic designation under ORS 197.772(3) applies only to those owners who held title when a local historic designation was first imposed and not to those whose property was already designated at the time they acquired it.”
The State Supreme Court’s ruling will have dramatic effects for historic preservation in Oregon. It is estimated that the fate of approximately 3,200 designated historic structures across the state will retain their landmark designation as critical components of Oregon’s rich and varied built environment.