Mayor Charlie Hales says he supports the Bureau of Development Services' decision to issue a stop-work order on a controversial Southeast Division Street apartment complex after a state land-use board revoked the building permit on the project.
"I think the stop-work order was appropriate," Hales told WW on Tuesday. "The right thing to do in this case—sort of the land-use version of the Hippocratic Oath—is do no more harm."
The project, the 37th Street Apartments, already stands four stories high. It has been a flashpoint for outrage from neighbors who say its size and lack of on-site parking are a blight on the street.
The state's Land Use Board of Appeals reversed the city's permit last week on a technicality that had nothing to do with the lack of parking. The board said the building's lack of a residential entrance within five feet of Division Street violated zoning code.
The Bureau of Development Services issued the stop-work order to Beaverton-based developer Dennis Sackhoff on Monday. Sackhoff's construction crew "buttoned up" the site Friday evening, and have not returned this week.
Hales, who campaigned for mayor on halting big apartments with no on-site parking, says the city needs a pause to figure out the next step.
"It's pretty rare for a LUBA decision to come along after a project is under construction, and in effect pull the rug out from under that construction," Hales says.
"Anyone is welcome to predict whether there is a version of this project that ultimately passes muster at LUBA, and they get their permit restored and finish it," Hales continues, "or whether the project is totally voided, and there's the problem of a half-built project that has to go away. We don't know which of those scenarios we're in yet. So the right thing to do for the moment is stop making it any worse."
The neighborhood activists fighting the project have noticed one sign that construction won't resume soon. On Monday, contractors removed the portable toilets from the building site.