In May 1996, the Environmental Protection Agency announced its Environmental Justice Action Agenda to address issues of environmental justice and equity in communities that have suffered from environmental concerns. Brownfields were identified as a key environmental justice issue.
In December of that year, the Portland Brownfields Initiative hosted a series of public Brownfield Roundtables to develop a set of community-based Brownfield Action Plans. Three actions plans were developed to provide guidance for the Portland Brownfield Initiative: Partnerships, Land Use and Growth Management, and Regulatory Enhancement.
Vice President Gore announced a Brownfields National Partnership in May 1997 to bring together the resources of various federal agencies to address brownfield cleanup and reuse issues in a more coordinated way. This multi-agency partnership pledged support to 16 Brownfields Showcase Communities as models to show the benefits of collaborative activity on brownfields.
Portland was selected as a Showcase Community in 1998 because of its commitment to brownfields redevelopment and its well-established relationships among local, state, and federal partners.
From early on, the Portland Brownfield Program has been driven by community involvement. Community members formed the North/Northeast Portland Brownfield Community Advisory Committee, which worked closely with property and business owners to identify potential brownfield properties for inclusion in the program. Property owners made presentations at community forums, describing their plans for redevelopment. Community members voted on proposed properties, and final recommendations were made to the Portland Brownfield Showcase Policy Committee, a 20-member board made up of the Mayor, a City Commissioner, several other elected officials, representatives from federal, state and local organizations, and community members.
Today's Portland Brownfield Program continues to serve communities throughout Portland. We bring federal grant money to the city and provide technical and financial assistance to restore Portland's vacant lands. Brownfield recovery protects human and environmental health, protects watersheds, increases the tax base, improves the economy, accommodates regional economic growth, provides jobs, improves community health and identity, and helps keep business in Portland. For more information please click on Portland Brownfield Program Services.