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Neighbors can't save Eastmoreland home from demolition

Photo Credit: DAVID F. ASHTON - The demolition excavator made quick work of the embattled Eastmoreland house on Rural Street; at the end of the day about all that was left was kindling. With the mighty crunch of a demolition excavator’s claw, the house at 3620 S.E. Rural Street started being torn to shreds at 8:30 am on Monday, August 4.

In our promised sequel to THE BEE’s story in our July issue, “‘Park-In’ delays Eastmoreland home’s demolition”, the delay in tearing down the home was short-lived.

An effort by neighbors to buy the home from developer Randy Sebastian of Renaissance Homes failed, as did an attempt by the Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association to obtain a 120-day demolition delay.

“In our opinion, the legality of the demolition remains cloudy,” said ENA Land Use Chair Rod Merrick.

The subdivision of the property – enabling the developer to build two houses on the single lot – should have been delayed, under the language of City statute 24.55.200, Merrick asserted.

“But the mandated 120-day delay filed by the neighborhood association was waived by BDS without warning. The developer was allowed to cancel his original filings and replace them with paperwork that supported constructing only one house.”

Demolishing one house and replacing it with a single new one negates the 120-day delay, Merrick pointed out. “As all parties well know, the announced plan is to build two houses on the lot. BDS has decided to administratively move lot lines at this location to facilitate the lot-split.”

Renaissance Homes has reportedly agreed to build the taller of the two new homes on the western end of the property, as a neighbor requested.

“Working with Renaissance Homes was significantly easier than working with the city's Bureau of Development Services,” ruefully remarked ENA President Robert McCullough. “I thank Randy Sebastian and his staff for the two week delay.”

“In the end, the villain in this story is the city,” McCullough told THE BEE. “Randy is a businessperson trying to make a buck. He’s a tough negotiator, but he was honest in his dealings, openly saying what he intended to do was subdivide the property and build two homes.”

ENA has decided not to take the matter to the Land Use Board of Appeals.

“What’s happened here is called, by some, ‘soft corruption’,” McCullough opined. “This isn’t the level of honesty we’d expect from the Portland City Government.”

As the dust from the demolition settled, ENA Board Member Kimberly Koehler commented, “The events at 3620 S.E. Rural have renewed neighborhood interest in distributing a covenant that property owners can attach to their deed, preventing a lot-split, should their home be sold to a developer.”