Controversial neighborhood reform plan heading back to City Council

Civic Affairs

A new version of a proposal to increase citizen involvement that sparked a backlash will be considered by the council on Thursday

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PORTLAND, Ore. (PORTLAND TRIBUNE) — The City Council will consider extending a controversial process to reform Portland’s public involvement system on Thursday, Jan. 9.

During the 2 p.m. hearing, the council could vote on a proposal by Commissioner Chloe Eudaly to form a multi-bureau work group that will review all public involvement provisions in the City Code, and to make recommendation to the council for increasing citizen participation no later than June 2023.

The proposal would also guarantee continued city funding for the seven neighborhood coalition offices that support the 95 neighborhood associations for three years.

Eudaly oversees the Office of Community & Civic Life that has been managing the reform process. The goal is to increase citizen involvement in civic affair. It has so far focused on Chapter 396 of the code, which establishes a formal public involvement process involving neighborhood organizations.

The project is controversial because the first proposal recommended removing all references to neighborhood associations, coalition offices and business districts from the chapter. Many neighborhood activists protested that would undermine an involvement process that has existed for decades. Eudaly argued that would allow the city to better involvement non-neighborhood organizations, such as communities of color that exist across geographic boundaries. 

“The code proposed by the code change committee seeks to build on this legacy and to continue opening the doors of City Hall wider. It holds government accountable for delivering racially and socially inclusive outcomes through community and civic engagement, names all people of Portland as who Civic Life is meant to serve, and maintains neighborhood associations, district coalitions, and business districts as essential partners in the civic fabric of the city,” reads the November 2019 report to the council on the project.

The council was originally expected to vote on the original proposal last year. Instead, because of the opposition and a lack of support on the council, Eudlay offered the current version, which the  council first heard on Nov. 14. 

Under the current version, the work group will be formed in January, start a new public engagement process for the project, regularly report to the council on its progress, and make its final findings and recommendations to the council by June 2023.

You can read the November 2019 report here.

The Portland Tribune is a KOIN 6 News media partner

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