PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A committee voted Thursday to pass a controversial new code that some worry will strip away Portland’s neighborhood associations.
There are 95 neighborhood associations in Portland and the city’s Office of Community and Civic Life said the codes were outdated and don’t include all neighborhoods.
The committee advised city Office of Community and Civic Life, formerly known as the Office of Neighborhood Involvement. The City Council directed it to rewrite Chapter 3.96 of the City Code, which recognizes and regulates Portland’s neighborhood associations as the official vehicle for public engagement. Among other things, they have an official role to play in land use matters within their boundaries.
“The challenge with it is there is no accountability,” Leslie Hammond with the SW Neighborhood association said. “There is no contract language that says a community group will do this and the city will do this. They want to eliminate the standards that we have operated by for 40 years.”
The current draft is controversial because it eliminates all reference to neighborhood associations from the code, although it does not abolish them.
Members of some of the associations said they have the infrastructure in place and can be more inclusive.
Musse Olol, who has struggled to get resources as president of the Solmali-American Council of Oregon, believes the move will help other organizations like his.
“It’s more like a community, so I feel like I’m inclusive and I will be a part of opportunities this agency has to offer,” he said.
Others believe it shows the growth of the city.
“We need to open it up to everybody to be the involved in the official connection of city government,” Brighton West of the Hawthorne Neighborhood said.
After public testimony Thursday evening, the committee extended its meeting and eventually passed a new code with revisions. The new language could still be revised more.
The City Council has scheduled a work session for Sept. 3, 2019.