May 28th, 2009

No Fence!

Yesterday the sellers got their contractor to take out the little chain link fence around our lot, they then rebuilt one in between our lot and the one that it was divided from.  Even though we’ve technically owned the lot for about two months so far, it has felt weird going on to it.  The fence has been enclosing out lot with the house next to it so we felt a little like we were violating our neighbor’s space when hopping the fence.  We’re not really big on fences, but having something in between us and the seller’s property is probably a reasonable idea.  The house our lot was divided from is now a vacation rental, so we’ll be having an assortment of random neighbors who might not necessarily know where our yard begins.

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May 11th, 2009

Progress

Permits Under Way

Exciting day today. We got plans in to the permit office… So they’re now sitting around waiting to be looked at by various plans examiners. For those of you who are familiar with the process: second screen is now intake. That saved me some time. For those not familiar with the permit process in Portland, its a usually a somewhat bureaucratic process of being shuffled between desks.  You check in at the first screen where they time stamp a card that tells everyone how long you’ve been waiting and then slip your card in the “A” box…  There are a series of boxes for each department.  A is for second screen, I think B is Planning and Zoning, and beyond that there is transportation and a couple others ending with Life Safety.  When a plans examiner is free, they go check the box and call whoever has been there the longest.  With most projects Second Screen will give you a permit number and tell you which people you need to talk to, then you work your way from desk to desk with your last stop at Life Safety.  At that point if its a simple project like a kitchen remodel or a tenant improvement you might get a permit over the counter, but any that require engineering or anything tricky will go to intake for more careful review…  Thats where our house is right now, but because they changed up the process for single family residences, I went to second screen and that was that.  For the first time in months, I actually don’t have much to do on the house plans, right now its time to wait until plans examiners get back to me with check sheets asking for corrections or clarifications.

Next step is to apply for our System Development Charge (SDC) exemption.  The Portland Development Commission (PDC) has a program aimed at creating affordable housing for low income individuals.  For a typical residence in the city of Portland, permits can run upwards of $20,000, and about $12,000 of that are SDCs…  Effectively a tax that helps pay for city infrastructure like water and parks.  To help get more low income housing built, PDC has a program that can exempt you from SDCs.  Primarily aimed at developers, it allows for those exemptions if the builder / developer agrees to sell only to people who earn less than median family income.  We meet that criteria (especially this year) and are hoping to take full advantage of any help we can get.

New York loves our contractor and his food

In other news – the New York Times had an article this Sunday about visiting Portland on a Budget, and our contractor’s crêperie was featured in a little video and slideshow.  Next time you’re biking home after a late night out, swing by 12th and Hawthorne and grab a crêpe at Perierra Crêperie.

Openning Night for Perierra CrêperieOpenning Night for Perierra Crêperie

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