Portland Connects with Sister City Guadalajara on Both Sides of the Border
THURSDAY, AUG. 28, 2014 — Mayor Charlie Hales this week talked livable cities with a delegation of business and government officials visiting from Guadalajara, Mexico — less than a week after Portland Fire & Rescue made its own splash in the sister city.
Since 1983, Portland has maintained the sister city relationship with Guadalajara through cultural, educational and economic exchanges. The delegation’s trip to Portland lays the groundwork for stronger ties — e.g. a new air service scheduled to start in October. Volaris Airlines will provide a direct air service between the two cities.
This week the delegation — including officials from the city, as well as from the state of Jalisco and from businesses such as Mundo Cuervo, the distillery that makes Jose Cuervo — toured Portland’s sustainable features and met with local businesses. The group was interested in learning about Portland’s best practices to advance the livable city movement.
“These relationships are so important,” Mayor Hales said. “Maintaining ties for over three decades makes both cities richer in culture, trade and education.”
Before Portland Fire started training and equipment donation with Guadalajara 15 years ago, the city had four stations serving 1.5 million people; Portland has 30 stations for 600,000 people. Now Guadalajara has 17 stations across the city, allowing firefighters to respond to calls within 5 minutes instead of up to 45 minutes.
“This makes a huge difference for them,” said Portland Fire & Rescue Lt. Joe Troncosso. “The only way to keep those stations is with equipment.
“These trucks started on the front lines here; then they were back-up; then they sat unused in the lot. Now, they’re back on the front lines again, doing what they’re supposed to: save lives.”
Trip Highlights Shared Interests among Portland, Japanese Cities
TUESDAY, SEPT. 9, 2014—Mayor Charlie Hales and a delegation of Portland government and business officials today return from a five-day trade mission in Japan, where they connected with culture, business and tourism partners in one of Oregon’s top export destinations.
(Clip from the Tokyo Fish Market.)
Hales’ visit to Sapporo, Portland’s oldest sister city relationship, followed a 90-person Sapporo delegation trip to Portland in June. The mayor was joined by Portland’s chief lobbyist, Government Relations Director Martha Pellegrino; Portland Development Commission International Business Development Officer Mitsu Yamazaki; and the city’s International Relations Liaison, Hector Miramontes.
“This was a tremendous experience,” Hales said. “Our cities have shared interests and issues. We learned a lot from them, and they learned a lot from us.”
“There are so many artistic, cultural, educational and economic connections between Japan and Portland,” Pellegrino said. “Portland’s star is clearly rising in our sister city, Sapporo, and in Tokyo.”
The delegation found striking similarities between Portland and its sister city. Hales was excited to see how invested Sapporo is in the relationship, with Portland Square—one of Pellegrino’s favorite stops—and a rose garden in honor of Portland.
Yamazaki was impressed with his tour of Sapporo, led by a professor of urban planning from Hokkaido University, which highlighted Sapporo’s likeness to Portland: “There are park blocks called Odori Park; streetcars crisscrossing the city; active pediatrician walkways; contrast between old and new building in a confined area much like Pearl. To top it off the list, the professor took me up on the southwestern hill to view the entire city from the above, with reminded me of the fabulous outlook from Pittock Mansion or (Oregon Health & Science University).”
While the delegation was impressed with how well-known Portland was in Japan, Hales still plugged the city as a destination for both business and visitors.
That afternoon, Hales presented at the Ninth International Symposium of America-Japan Societies in Sapporo, Hokkaido, on celebrating 55 years as a sister city with shared values of sustainability.
The delegation traveled to Tokyo on Sunday, and on Monday spent the day with business and industry.
They toured a Kanto Factory in the city of Koga — among the delegation’s favorite experiences. Kanto Factory is a product demonstration campus of the Sekisui House, one of Japan’s largest homebuilders. The factory showcases the company’s latest technologies materials and designs, such as an earthquake simulator within a model house. The product demonstration campus is located next to Sekisui’s largest factory, churning out all the components to make a house every 7 minutes, serving 40 million people around the Tokyo metro region. Its materials recycling facility recycles 80 different materials from the homebuilding operation.
The delegation later lunched in Tokyo with Sekisui House CEO Isami Wada, and met with the executive vice president of Mitsui Fudosan, a major real estate developer in Japan. On Tuesday, the final visit of the trip was with the Tokyo Foundation Think Tank, a nonprofit that provides policy analysis on Japan’s domestic and international issues.
Portland’s experience as a waterfront city lent valuable insight to a meeting with the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transportation and Tourism at the headquarters for the Mizbering Project, which is working to transition from government control of rivers to commercial and recreational use. Hales shared with the ministry his perspective on and Portland’s historical experience with waterfront development, public engagement, and creative urban planning and development.
“Portland, Oregon, Mayor Charlie Hales met with Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport in Tokyo. We exchanged opinions and promoted the Mizbering project. The city of Portland is now ranked as the No. 1 environmental city in the United States. However, the city’s once dirty river devastated the city. But citizens participated in creative solutions, and have achieved a sustainable city and waterfront redevelopment. Columbia Sportswear, Nike and other outdoor manufacturers are headquartered there, and naturally combines the sport outfitting with the city’s active culture. Portland is now in the spotlight in various magazines. Mizbering project also examines Portland as a waterfront city that offers many things to learn from!”
FRIDAY, SEPT. 5, 2014 -- This year marks the 55th anniversary of Portland’s longest-running sister city relationship, that of Sapporo, Japan.
Mayor Charlie Hales is leading a delegation there, followed by a visit to Tokyo. To celebrate the 55th anniversary, the delegation is experiencing a number of arts- and culture-related sites in Sapporo, from an art festival to a Sapporo Symphony Orchestra rehearsal.
Hales and Mayor Ueda of Sapporo signed an agreement to form an arts exchange between the sister cities. The Potland delegation also met with the Hokkaido Shimbun Newspaper--a 127-year-old daily paper with a circulation of nearly 1.5 million--and toured Portland Square at Horoshira Bridge. They visited the Sapporo International Art Festival and took part in the 55th anniversary ceremony of the Portland Pavilion in Sapporo Art Park.
"Sapporo's stunning Art Park includes a contemporary art collection that explores the city and nature. Visitors are welcomed to the museum with this installation that makes art of out fog," Hales said. "Sounds a little dubious until you see it...and then you appreciate it."
Hales said he was excited to see how Sapporo celebrates Portland as a sister city, with an architecturally compelling Portland Square, a rose-filled Portland Sister City garden, and city art by Portland artists, including several with Pacific Northwest College of Art.
"Between Sapporo's fantastic parks and stunning public art, it's evident why our two cities have had such a long sister city relationship," Hales said.
Here's a peek at the fog installation that wowed the Portland delegation, captured by the mayor:
Natural Grocers to add Store on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard
THURSDAY, AUG. 28, 2014 – Mayor Charlie Hales and Kemper Isely, co-president of Natural Grocers, announced today that property owned by the Portland Development Commission at Northeast Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Alberta Street will be the site for a new community-centric grocery store that focuses on free nutrition education and healthy food.
Three months ago, Mayor Hales and PDC staff urged the project developer, Majestic Realty Co., to remain committed to the project and to find another anchor tenant for the 1.79-acre property, following the decision by Trader Joe’s not to locate a store on the site.
“The challenges this development has faced have been well documented,” Mayor Hales said. “But thanks to the determination of the public and private partners involved, we’re now able to present a development that will benefit the residents of Northeast Portland, support neighboring businesses, introduce Portlanders to a high-quality, affordable grocer and revitalize a parcel of land that has sat dormant for 15 years.”
In March, the mayor committed an additional $20 million in urban renewal funds to affordable housing in North and Northeast Portland to complement commercial development efforts on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. The Portland Housing Bureau, led by Commissioner Dan Saltzman, is conducting a community involvement process to develop a North/Northeast Neighborhood Housing Strategy to help direct that investment.
Natural Grocers is a Colorado-based chain with stores in 14 states. The company currently has seven locations in Oregon, including four in the Portland area, as well as a new store set to open in Eugene on September 23.
“We have felt instantly at home in Oregon and the Portland area and are very excited to partner on this new development and start building a lasting and beneficial relationship with the community on Portland’s Northeast side,” Isely said. “The values Portlanders embrace around fresh, local food; resource conservation; and community involvement are perfectly aligned with the business model we’ve had in place since my parents founded the company nearly 60 years ago.”
Beyond a place to buy healthy food, the new store brings many additional benefits to the Northeast Portland community, including: an on-site credentialed nutritional health coach, provided at no charge, to answer questions, help with meal planning and provide one-on-one nutrition counseling, along with other free nutrition education options like cooking classes and demonstrations, and lectures on topics of interest to the community. “We work hard to make healthy options affordable so that customers feel empowered in our stores,” Isely added. “We are deeply committed to our neighbors and we look forward to being part of the Portland community for years to come.”
Preliminary design work will start in early September. In addition to Natural Grocers, the development, when complete, will include commercial and retail space to house between four and 10 businesses.
A community benefits agreement and elements of the project design will be developed by a project working group. The group will include representatives from nearby neighborhood, business and community associations and will be formed in the next few weeks. Their work will inform the overall project design and development.
Colas Construction of Portland was selected in January as project general contractor. “I grew up and now reside in North Portland and I am honored to have Colas Construction lead a project that will deliver real jobs, real amenities and real opportunities for neighborhood residents,” said Andrew Colas, president of Colas Construction. “I want to thank Majestic Realty for the commitment to us, to this neighborhood and to this project. I am so excited to break ground.”
Work on the project is expected to begin in late fall.
Relations Between Police, Community Remain Priority for Mayor Hales
WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 3, 2014 – For the past six months, Portland Police Bureau officers have been walking beats, an old-fashioned concept that had grown out of style in past decades. The first such walking beats are part of a pilot program in downtown, the Central Eastside and along Hawthorne Boulevard.
“I was convinced that a return to walking beats would change the way the community interacts with Portland Police,” Mayor Charlie Hales said. “Finding a new dynamic between Portlanders and Portland Police has been my priority since I took office. And we’re seeing it on Hawthorne. The officers are great. The community is happy. This is a success.”
Hales’ initiatives in 2013 and 2014 have included shepherding through reforms spelled out in a Department of Justice settlement agreement; a focus on the Office of Youth Violence Prevention; the Enough is Enough campaign to encourage community activism in fighting violence; the Black Male Achievement initiative; equity projects with the U.S. Conference of Mayors; and a three-day equity training for senior, white, male leaders in the mayor’s office and Portland Police command staff titled, “White Men as Full Diversity Partners.”
To see if the walking beats are working, Hales toured Hawthorne on Friday, Aug. 29, speaking with customers, shop owners, street youths and officers, including Sgt. Ric DeLand, who’s been with Portland Police for 24 years.
“We’re interacting with them every day,” DeLand said of the street youths on Hawthorne. “We’re involved in their joys, their breakups, their hangovers, their feuds.”
The idea behind walking beats is to create a relationship between officers and members of the community, before a law-enforcement incident occurs. Central Precinct Police Commander Robert Day has been a strong proponent of the beats.
So has DeLand. “Instead of only having contact with the police when they’re being told they’re doing something wrong, they have daily contact with police, petting their dogs, getting to know their story, connecting them with services, understanding what makes them feel unsafe, letting them know we’re aware of any bad behavior,” DeLand said. “It’s analogous to parenting: Don’t ignore someone until they do something wrong and then punish them. But that’s what we do with law enforcement. It doesn’t make sense. You make everything about enforcement you’re just going to get rebellion. Make them part of the solution instead of part of the problem.”
Hales spoke to several people along Hawthorne, including a street musician who goes by the moniker Rain Bojangles. “Wow. It’s much better here now,” Bojangles said. He plays music on a handmade string instruments and often can be seen near the Powell’s Books on Hawthorne. “We used to have a lot of troublemakers who just made things worse for everywhere. They’re gone now, and that’s nice.”
Bojangles pointed to Sgt. DeLand and added: “He stops and talks to me almost every day. He’s a nice guy. He’s here to help.”
DeLand said the walking beats have allowed his officers to see a new aspect to the houseless community and street youths who frequent the area. “To us, prior to this, they all looked the same,” DeLand said. “Now, instead of painting everybody with a broad brush and trying to stamp out traveling in Portland, we’ve targeted the bad behaviors. That builds credibility with the larger community through word-of-mouth.”
And is there danger, walking a beat rather than being in a patrol car? DeLand laughs. “Of the hundreds and hundreds and hundreds dogs I’ve pet — all these ‘vicious’ pit bulls — the only time I’ve been bit was by a 7-pound Chihuahua named Pizza. I made the mistake of petting Pizza while he was sound asleep.”