Seismic Mandate Threat to Music Venues

MusicPortland, in coordination with Save Portland Buildings and the Council of Churches, is mounting an opposition to the unreinforced masonry seismic upgrade mandate.  We are challenging discrepancies and procedural flaws in resolutions to date and the placarding requirement/vote scheduled for October 10.  The building upgrades required by the mandate will cost between $250K to a $Mil per property.  That the placards obliterate financing options and will remain even after venues upgrade removes incentives and will increase the likelihood that property owners will sell to developers and demolish these community gathering places.  MusicPortland seeks to highlight the catastrophic impact it will have on the local music cultural that generates enormous direct revenues and has been fueling much of the local economy boom by helping to attract new employers to the city.  

Wrapped in the language of "public safety" the identification and retrofit mandates being proposed by City Hall are more destructive even than the 20% chance of earthquake they seek to address.  They provide 20 years for the 1600 properties (including 35 music venues) to complete the structural upgrades, but will vote on September 12 to placard these building with an "Unsafe" designation that will discourage patrons and suspend all financing options that they might pursue to complete the building upgrades.  If the placarding requirement is passed on September 12, it will be game over for most of these venues whether leased or owned.

By creating an untenable and un-winnable mandate, our leaders seem to have created the perfect storm for Developers; publishing a flawed list of properties two years before the resolution was crafted or passed, including obligations without incentives, and removing all financing options and business viability through placards that stigmatize.  It is called "Catastrophe Capitalism".  Our city will never be the same nor will our independent music culture.  100% damage to our city as compared to a 20% chance of earthquake.

There are many indications in the way this whole process has been handled that suggest a motivation outside "Public Safety". 

  • There was no contact or engagement and zero transparency for impacted properties and communities prior to the resolution
  • City Council has ignored significant parts of the policy committee recommendations that would have mitigated the impact 
    • Policy committee unanimously DID NOT support placarding.
    • Policy committee unanimously supported placarding “atta boys” for retrofitting only 
  • Even once the properties have completed the required seismic upgrades, they will still be forced to display the placard
  • Find out more about placarding issues

Impacted Music Venues 

  • Crystal Ballroom *  
  • DANTE'S  *   
  • Dig-A-Pony  *  
  • Eugenios  *  
  • Keller Auditorium *  
  • Laurelthirst Public House  *  
  • Los Prados Event Hall *  
  • Marathon Tavern * 
  • MCMENAMIN’S Chapel Pub
  • Penguin Tavern  *  
  • THE ESCAPE *  
  • The Liquor Store 
  • The Moon and Sixpence  *   
  • The Sandy Hut  *  
  • The Ship   *  
  • The Tube  *  
  • THE WAYPOST  *   
  • The White Eagle   *
  •  The World Famous Kenton Club   *  
  • Widmer Brewing 
  • Three other venues from the original list have already closed

What to Do:

Learn More:  For those that like to know all the details:

Click here to read the final resolution adopted by Council.
Click here to watch the full Council meeting. The URM discussion begins at the 03:03:30 mark.

Strongly voice your opposition to the Placarding requirement on behalf of the music ecosystem.  At a time when our city becomes less connected, the music culture builds shared identity, international reputation, community, and positive economic impact.  Music is the heart of our city.

EMAIL: (Here is a sample letter)


Ted Wheeler: 503-823-4120

Nick Fish: 503-823-3589
Amanda Fritz: 503-823-3008)
Dan Saltzman: 503-823-4151
Chloe Eudaly: 503-823-4682

Spread the word and get all of your friends who care about music in Portland to attend the city council meeting on October 10.  

Independent (venues) Together!!!!!!