Multnomah County Courthouse
Take a video tour of the Downtown Courthouse:
Courthouse survey is now closed
Multnomah County’s downtown courthouse was built between 1909 and 1914, when the county had only 250,000 residents and long before modern building code standards for the region’s risk of earthquakes were in place.
Today, nearly three times that many people live in Multnomah County and the courthouse gets heavily used each day, from judges to jurors to people paying their parking tickets. Greater demand from a much larger population, coupled with a century’s worth of use, means the courthouse has developed serious safety problems that no longer can be deferred.
Simply put, the courthouse is structurally and functionally obsolete. The building doesn’t meet current seismic codes. There are also serious security concerns for the courts and the public, given the courthouse’s limitations on separating criminal defendants from judges and witnesses.
Multnomah County is committed to providing a safe and functional courthouse and we would like your input on what is important to you as we proceed. Part of the decision-making process is a new report discussing six courthouse options, including renovation of the current courthouse to meet today’s safety standards or construction of a new courthouse.
The Board of County Commissioners plans to consider this issue in December. The board meeting will include the results of a recent public survey that collected public input on the future of the courthouse.
Keep up with news coverage about the courthouse:
- June 14, 2012 in The Oregonian: "New Multnomah County courthouse: Best or Cheapest"
- Aug. 4, 2012 editorial in The Oregonian: "Multnomah County courthouse: better to renovate than replace"
- Sept. 27 on KOIN: "A public meeting about courthouse safety is Thursday"
- Sept. 27 on KEX: "A dangerous county courthouse"
- Sept. 28 in The Oregonian: "Future of Multnomah County courthouse mulled as debate focuses on renovation versus new construction"
- Oct. 9 in The Oregonian: "Multnomah County Courthouse tour reveals depth of renovation challenges"
- Oct. 9 in The Oregonian: "Problems plauge 103-year-old Multnomah County Courthouse (photo essay)"
- Nov. 21 in The Oregonian: "Multnomah County considers public-private partnership as way to rebuild or renovate historic courthouse"
Board approves downtown County Courthouse screening report at Dec. 6 meeting
Over the next several months, Multnomah County’s downtown courthouse will be studied to determine the best ways to fund a renovation or replacement project for the nearly 100-year-old building.
The Board of Commissioners approved a resolution on Thursday, Dec. 6 that allows an external firm to prepare a screening report, which will be paid for by a State of Oregon grant and be completed by February. The report will examine whether the project is best implemented through traditional financing or a possible public-private partnership.
The board’s action follows a busy fall in which it sought community feedback about the building’s safety issues and solutions to seismic and structural hazards. Results from an online community survey and two public community meetings co-hosted by Commissioners Deborah Kafoury and Judy Shiprack were shared at the Dec. 6 board meeting.
Among the survey findings, which garnered 733 responses:
- About a half of all respondents said their general impression of the courthouse level of safety is poor.
- Nearly two-fifths of respondents said their general impression of courthouse functionality is poor, and about as many said it is fair.
- More than two-thirds of respondents strongly agreed with the statement, “Replacing or renovating the courthouse should be a priority for Multnomah County and the state.”
For more information: