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PHOTO CREDIT: TRIBUNE PHOTO JAIME VALDEZ  - An Eastmoreland home on Rural Street was demolished to make way for a new house. Portland neighborhood leaders want the city to tighten rules governing residential demolition and infill projects.The City Council will consider creating a pilot program to encourage more contractors to deconstruct homes targeted for redevelopment on Wednesday.


The resolution submitted by Mayor Charlie Hales is partly a response to concerns raised by neighborhood activists that hazardous materials like asbestos and lead-based paint chips are released into the air during the mechanical demolition of homes.

The number of demolition projects has increased in recent years as the economy has recovered and existing homes have been redeveloped into new housing, especially in popular close-in neighborhoods. The resolution says there were 350 demolitions of single-family homes in 2014 and the number is trending upwards.

The resolution would establish a program to provide incentives, training and technical assistance to promote voluntary deconstruction as an alternative to the demolition of homes to be replaced with new housing. The request for the program was put together by a Deconstruction Advisory Group within the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability.

The resolution can be read here.

Despite the environmental benefits, deconstruction is more expensive than demolition in most cases. The advisory group heard the additional cost averages around $5,000, although that amount can be reduced if the recovered material is sold or donated to a non-profit recycling organization.

An Impact Statement submitted with the resolution predicts some neighborhood activists will testify the construction should be mandatory not voluntary at Wednesday's hearing.

If the resolution is approved, BDS staff would develop the program and return to the council for funding, probably during the annual Fall 2015 budget adjustment process. BPS has already identified $50,000 in its Solid Waste Management Fund Reserves as a possible source of funding.

The money could be distributed as grants to existing recycling organizations or to contractors who want to gain experience deconstructing homes. BPS would report back to the council on the program in September 2016.

BPS has already created a website with information to encourage deconstructions at recyclingnutsandbolts.com.

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