Walt McMonies was quoted in the Portland Mercury’s feature article, “Brick By Brick,” on May 30. The article takes a deep dive into Portland’s 1,650 unreinforced masonry buildings (URMs) and the upcoming city council vote on the policies mandating they be retrofitted in case of an earthquake.
When it comes to deciding how to approach retrofitting the city’s URMs, there are many issues to take into account, including the high cost of renovations to be compliant, the displacement of tenants and homeowners occupying these buildings, and most importantly, who will be fronting the bill — private owners or the city? Many are worried private owners won’t be able to afford retrofitting costs, which could cause the destruction of Portland’s historical buildings, drastic rent increases as landlords try to recover costs, and further gentrification.
Not all business owners have been resistant to change. McMonies is one of Portland’s few building owners who voluntarily retrofitted his building — and to safety standard, far beyond what the city may soon require. He says he did so because of his love of old buildings and his desire to protect them — and their tenants.
“My daughter lives in a URM, and I care about her and want to make sure she and other tenants aren’t killed in an earthquake,” McMonies says.
Portland City Council will vote on URM policies on June 13.
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