Portland is full of great neighborhoods, where residents can walk to the farmers market, local movie theater and brew pub down the street; some amenities of a great urban neighborhood are there.
But that’s only about half the neighborhoods in Portland. The other half are not yet complete. Some were incomplete semblances of suburbia when they were annexed into the city, and since then city leaders have been working to make them complete, with hyper-local economies, neighborhood parks and services within walking distance.
There’s already been significant progress in rectifying those inequities, with investment focused on retrofitting parts of Portland — not to be physically identical to the old neighborhoods, but rather to have the ingredients of the complete neighborhoods Portlanders want. This fall, voters renewed the parks bond Mayor Hales created when he was a city commissioner, providing $63 million in revenue to repair and maintain parks. The E-205 effort invested in parks in East Portland. Portland was one of 10 cities to win a City Climate Leadership Award from the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group for the Healthy Connected City strategy that aims to bring complete neighborhoods to 80 percent of the city by 2035.
Mayor Hales has prioritized complete neighborhoods: finding a new source of transportation revenue to build sidewalks and repair city streets; refocusing Portland Development Commission dollars on underserved neighborhoods; and launching bold initiatives to end homelessness.
Mayor Hales' Priorities, 2015-16
Ending veteran homelessness: Working with partners in the Home for Everyone coalition, Mayor Hales has a goal of housing 23 chronically homeless veterans monthly in 2015, ending veteran homelessness by the end of the year. The plan includes prioritizing veterans in distribution of housing resources and screening criteria. And Mayor Hales plans to budget an additional $225,000 in ongoing rental assistance.
Expanding affordable housing: Mayor Hales is launching a plan to join with the private sector to build significantly more affordable housing in coming years — the most ambitious housing project the city has ever undertaken, in response to a drastic lack of affordable housing.
Complete neighborhoods: Mayor Hales will continue to direct bureaus to prioritize creation of complete neighborhoods — those with walkable and bikable access to parks and community centers, public transportation, grocery stores and other goods and services, a range of housing options, and quality public schools. The Portland Plan identifies a goal of 55 percent people living in complete neighborhoods by 2017.
Deploying affordable housing funds: Mayor Hales is committed to ensuring the additional $20 million investment for affordable housing in the North and Northeast Portland Interstate Corridor Urban Renewal Area (light brown on map, left) goes to where the community feels it’s needed within the study area (dark brown on map), without delay.
Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard: Mayor Hales is working with community partners to revitalize a portion of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in a way that connects with its historic significance for Portland’s African-American community. As the neighborhood faces complex issues with gentrification driving away historic communities, the mayor is working with North and Northeast Portland leaders to develop a blend of jobs, retail and housing in the area.
Street maintenance and safety: City Council is working to find a local funding source to pay for street maintenance and safety improvements the city auditor says are needed. The February 2013 audit found more than $70 million per year would be needed to maintain Portland’s 5,000 lane miles. Oregon gas tax and federal Highway Trust Fund rates have been stagnant for too long to keep up with transportation needs, requiring another source of revenue to pay for the city’s largest asset.
Redevelopment standards: Realizing the need to minimize potential negative impacts to neighborhood character and housing affordability caused by out-of-scale redevelopment, Mayor Hales has prioritized crafting updated building standards for single-family home redevelopment.
Demolitions and infill: Mayor Hales has led the effort to reduce health and environmental impacts associated with home redevelopment, and early this year will propose incentives to deconstruct structures rather than demolish them. The mayor and Commissioner Amanda Fritz will work to implement new regulations on single-family home demolitions that require notice for neighbors, in order to ensure safety and to allow residents to preserve homes they believe are valuable assets to their neighborhoods. Mayor Hales also is committed to working with neighborhood stakeholders and developers to ensure that new houses are more compatible in terms of lot coverage, height, setbacks and open-space requirements.