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Mayor Charlie Hales

City of Portland Mayor Charlie Hales

Phone: 503-823-4120

1221 SW 4th Avenue, Room 340, Portland, OR 97204

Willamette Valley mayors rally support for passenger rail

Union Station, Portland's Amtrack stationTHURSDAY, APRIL 23, 2015 – The mayors of Eugene, Portland and Albany are urging voters to speak out in support of the Amtrak Cascades intercity passenger rail service, which serves the Willamette Valley.

A letter was distributed this week by Kitty Piercy, mayor of Eugene, with the support of Charlie Hales, mayor of Portland, and Sharon Konopa, mayor of Albany. The letter encourages residents to share their opinions with lawmakers. Direct spending is estimated at $2.8 million per year for the passenger service.

“Vibrant passenger rail, up and down the Willamette Valley, is good for the environment and good for business,” Mayor Hales said. “This year, a funding increase for transportation is a priority of Gov. Kate Brown and Speaker of the House Tina Kotek. I support their efforts to increase funding for transportation. And smart rail transportation is an important element of that.”

“Full funding of the service will demonstrate Oregon’s commitment to state-supported rail and help us meet our shared greenhouse gas reduction goals,” the mayors stated in their open letter to residents. “This support is necessary for continued federal investment in much-needed rail infrastructure, such as depot improvements and layover tracks.”

Gov. Brown singled out transportation funding as a top priority in her first-ever State of the State speech, earlier this month.

Read the letter:

Mayor Meets with Stakeholders in Southeast Quadrant Plan

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 8, 2015 — Mayor Hales last week attended a Stakeholder Advisory Committee meeting about the Southeast Quadrant Plan, which will guide development of the city's most dynamic and evolving area of Portland's Central City. The mayor wanted to hear stakeholder feedback on the plan before a draft is published later this month. Public hearings on the plan begin in May.

In this area of emerging economic creativity and growth, the Southeast Quadrant Plan's goals include:

  •  Increase the number of jobs per acre and new industrial types in the Central City;
  •  Preserve traditional industrial uses;
  •  Increase accessibility to the waterfront;
  •  Provide parking solutions;
  •  Manage increased activity.

Mayor at Redd on SalmonMayor Hales recently toured businesses in the industrial area, including Spooltown (video!) and Uncorked Studios (video!).

"I'm so impressed with their creativity and innovation," he said. "We need to make sure planning preserves these businesses' presence in the Central Eastside."

And Mayor Hales recently toured the new Ecotrust project, Redd on Salmon, which he says is a model for the new economy: "This project is so damn cool. It brings together urban and rural food movements in Central Eastside. It is revolutionary for the Portland food movement. I'm so excited about this project. I want to see more like it."

Stakeholders highlighted potential transportation issues — balancing bicycle and large vehicle traffic — and the desire to preserve the industrial character of the area, among other priorities. Issues will be ironed out as the plan proceeds through its current phase, Phase 4: Plan Development, and into Phase 5: Public Review & Adoption.


Mayor Proposes Energy Reporting for Commercial Buildings

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 15 — Mayor Charlie Hales today brought to Council a policy that would require commercial buildings, 20,000 square feet and larger, to track energy performance, calculate energy use, and report to the city. The goal is to reduce energy costs for building owners and carbon emissions for the city — among Mayor Hales' goals to keep Portland living up to its green reputation.

Reducing building energy use is the single biggest opportunity for carbon reductions in the entire county. But right now in Portland, of the city's 5,000 commercial buildings — which are spending $335 million annually on energy — only 81 are ENERGY STAR certified. In a broader context, fewer than 20 percent of commercial buildings in Portland are affected by the policy, yet the policy affects 80 percent of Portland's commercial square footage.

Buildings that track energy use save an average of 2.4 percent on energy costs per year. If all 1,000 buildings covered by the policy saved 2.4 percent, that effort would save them millions of dollars each year, and reduce the city's carbon emissions considerably. In Washington, D.C., a similar policy resulted in a 9 percent reduction in energy use over three years, 2010-13.

The policy would kick in April 2016 for largest commercial buildings, 50,000 and more square feet, and April 2017 for buildings 20,000 to 50,000 square feet. The state and Energy Trust of Oregon provide rebates and tax credits for energy efficient upgrades to lighting and HVAC systems, so "green" improvements shouldn't be cost-prohibitive. In response to building owner concerns, those affected by the policy will have a year to improve energy scores before they become readily available.

"The City is leading by example," Mayor Hales said, referring to the City's target of a 2-percent reduction in building energy use per year. "This policy puts our sustainable city in the ranks of others: Austin, Boston, Cambridge, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Minneapolis, New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Seattle."

Council will vote on the proposed policy on Earth Day, April 22.

More from the Twitter Town Hall the mayor hosted to answer questions about the policy:


Mayor Hosts Environmental Roundtable; Hears from Advocates, Asks for Help for City Priorities

Mayor Hales with representatives from environmental groupsFRIDAY, MARCH 13, 2015 — Mayor Hales this morning hosted a roundtable with representatives from 13 environmental groups to learn about their priorities, and enlist them in helping to advance the city’s environmental goals.

“We’re in a good position right now. I spent these first two years righting the ship, so to speak, redrawing fixing the balancing a budget with a $21.5 million deficit; redrawing URAs to put $800 million back on the tax rolls; and paving more than 100 miles of streets—up from 30 from before I took office,” Mayor Hales said. “Now our businesses and development are strong; our budget has improved and we actually have some money; and we’re focusing some resources on those environmental goals we all care about.”

Representatives from environmental groups presented their priorities for Portland, including urban density, green infrastructure, electric vehicle access, and bike-friendly policies. A sample:

    • Jason Miner, 1000 Friends of Oregon: Density isn’t a goal to protect some distant farms, but rather a tool to create livable communities around walkable and bikeable amenities and services, Miner said. “Let’s frame it that way,” he said. He also called for a renewed focus on Metro’s 2040 plan
  • Bob Sallinger, Audubon Society: He called for renewed investment in green infrastructure. “What’s the next big initiative to get people excited?” he said. He also questioned the 2035 Comprehensive Plan’s focus on industrial land. 

Bob Sallinger with AudubonMayor Hales responded that the industrial designation is designed to work with the new economy, such as the Ecotrust project, The Redd on Salmon. Ecotrust has purchased two buildings that it is renovating into a working hub for new food-based enterprises and the regional food economy. It will help grown young businesses and connect them to Oregon’s resources. “I’m so excited about that project,” Mayor Hales said. “I want to see more like that.”

    • Kristen Sheeran, Climate Solutions: After praising the inclusiveness of the Bureau of Planning & Sustainability’s Climate Action Plan process (draft now out for public comment; click here), she said her group would like the city’s help in creating electric vehicle infrastructure for Portland.
  • Doug Moore, Oregon League of Conservation Voters: He emphasized the importance of Portland being a leader on environmental and climate issues.

Mayor Hales agreed: “We’ve had an outsized, catalytic effect on the world. I was at the C40 conference in Johannesburg, South Africa, and in that gathering of mayor’s from around the world, everybody knew Portland. We have influenced the conversation and action around the world, and we need to continue to do so.”

      • Rob Sadowsky, Bicycle Transportation Alliance: Hitting some hot topics for bicycle advocates, he said Portland needs a bike share; needs to figure out how to include mountain biking in its natural areas; and needs to consider pedestrians and cyclists in its construction zone permits. Fencing around development that takes over sidewalks and bike lanes are dangerous, he said, pointing to Montreal as a city with a good model for balancing construction and transportation needs. 
  • Mary Peveto, Neighbors for Clean Air: "We were honored to participate in this roundtable with Mayor Hales and top champions for the environment. And we were heartened to hear the broad support to address air pollution challenges beyond CO2. We hope to see the City of Portland sustain this commitment to address the challenges we face to preserve urban green space, healthy environments and livability through the projected growth in the decades to come."

Council Approves Mayor's URA Amendments

Mayor Hales at CouncilWEDNESDAY, APRIL 1, 2015 — City Council today approved Mayor Charlie Hales' amendments to the city's urban renewal areas, marking the first-ever comprehensive reform of the development tool.

"I'm very proud of this one," Mayor Hales said. "I spent a lot of time talking to voters a few years ago, telling them that I thought URAs were a great tool, but needed to be right-sized."

For instance, the mayor said, on Southeast Clinton, the new light rail stop area is desolate, "a terrible place to wait for a train now. But it will be a great place in the future with this URA."

On the other hand, the Airport Way was a success, and nearly 1,000 acres were returned to the tax rolls with the redrawing. "Stand on the floor of Leatherman Tools, and you'll see how successful that URA was," Mayor Hales said. "It's active, with diverse employment."

The mayor's plans for redrawing URAs, which help redevelop and improve blighted areas, put $800 million in assessed value back on the tax rolls — effectively increasing the city’s budget by $1.5 million; increasing Multnomah County’s budget by $1.5 million; and increasing the Common School Fund by about $1 million.

Listen to the mayor's full remarks at council (5 minutes) on Soundcloud.

Listen to the mayor discuss URA amendments on OPB's Think Out Loud (20 minutes) on Soundcloud.

Reform includes: