PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Preparing for Portland’s new form of government is causing disagreements at city hall.
As city staff prepare for renovations, city commissioners are pushing back against a plan to remove them from their offices.
City staff says the commissioners need to move from their offices to renovate them for the new city council following last year’s charter reform vote, increasing the current number of five seats to 13.
“This is a time of transition for the city and its high stakes,” said Commissioner Carmen Rubio when asked why commissioners were committed to staying in their current offices. “We need to make sure we have the full focus and attention that we need.”
City council chambers, which are where the meetings are held, need renovations to begin in January to accommodate eight new seats.
However, when it comes to council office renovations, which were first reported by The Oregonian/OregonLive, commissioners Dan Ryan, Mingus Mapps, Carmen Rubio and Rene Gonzales all say they should not begin until their terms end.
“We’re hoping the new city council will be in the community a lot more,” Rubio said, referring to offices that councilors will have inside the four new council districts.
In a letter to Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler commissioners said that “Portlanders made it clear they wanted change and a more responsive form of government to bring elected officials closer to their neighborhoods.”
Each of the commissioners’ offices will have six rooms inside. The current commissioners believe with all four offices combined, that’s enough room for all of the new council.
“A lot of them were updated not that long ago so it would be a shame to tear up the building again,” Rubio said.
In a statement to KOIN 6, Wheeler says the transition is about the community, not city commissioners.
“I hope that the elected offices can lead by example in this change management process and do what is necessary to adequately pressure test the new structure prior to the start date,” he said.