In late 2019, Portland City Council will consider adopting a code change that will provide updated language of inclusivity but will harm civic engagement and remove levers for accountability. The city has had a long-standing relationship with Neighborhood Associations, District Coalitions and Business District Associations among others and they are a crucial channel of governance. The Neighborhood Association system formalizes geographic local constituent governance with the Standards and Open Meetings rules as a condition of receiving and maintaining such formal recognition and benefits from the city. The standards set forth minimums for transparency, notice, openness, inclusion, non-discrimination, accountability, and grievance procedures. The code change will give the city top-down decision making power and authority to make important decisions behind closed doors. A functional city needs a balance of government power and clear open channels of citizen involvement to bring thoughtful change. We urge City Council members to vote “NO” on the City Code §3.96 proposal.
In various documents dating back to 2008, City leaders have agreed on a commendable goal: to improve they way government connects with a more diverse collection of organizations. The present proposal does not create a clear system for organizing or provide a defined alternative to Neighborhood Associations and instead dismantles the City’s framework for engagement; neighborhood associations.
Portland’s neighborhood associations have a rich history of achievements that benefit all Portlanders, and the model is internationally acclaimed. Any proposal to update the City Code must be rooted in a good understanding of how neighborhood associations operate, and must consider them a valued partner in efforts to diversify, rather than identifying them as part of the problem.
This site offers information and background on these issues. Do you agree with our position? Get involved! You can sign a petition, get help contacting the Mayor and Commissioners to urge a “No” vote, get a “Keep Portland Neighborly” sticker for yourself (or a whole pile for your own neighborhood), and more.