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Bureau leaders hope its new proposal will lead to an incentive program that will sweeten the pot enough to convince building owners to fork out the money to retrofit their buildings.

KOIN 6 NEWS - The Crystal Ballroom did a significant amount of retrofitting before it opened in 1996 and then again in 2006 to meet city standards.The Portland City Council this week unanimously passed a new plan to form a committee to deal with the nearly 2,000 unreinforced masonry buildings in the city.

Unreinforced masonry buildings are those without structural support behind brick or other stone facades. Such buildings are considered to be at high risk of partial or full collapse in the event of an earthquake.

The plan, put forth by the city's Bureau of Emergency Management, repealed one of the most contentious parts of the city's current ordinance: requiring owners of unreinforced masonry buildings to post signs warning they are dangerous in quakes.

Bureau leaders hope its new proposal will lead to an incentive program that will sweeten the pot enough to convince building owners to fork out the money to retrofit their buildings.

The council vote was 4-0. Mayor Ted Wheeler was not present.

A total of 70 people applied to be on the committee. Their work group meetings will be open to the public and five owners of unreinforced masonry buildings are on the work group.

They'll be expected to present their findings and will provide quarterly updates throughout their process.

"We are very pleased and look forward to a better process that is inclusive of the owners of these buildings as opposed to just city staff and those in the retrofit business," said John DiLorenzo, a Portland attorney representing local building owners, who had previously obtained an injunction in federal court preventing the city from enforcing the requirements.

You can read a previous Portland Tribune story on the issue here.

KOIN 6 News is a news partner of the Portland Tribune. You can see the KOIN story here.


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