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The City of Portland, Oregon

Audit Services

Audits City bureaus and programs for efficiency, effectiveness and equity

1221 SW 4th Avenue, Suite 310, Portland, OR 97204

Community Development

Browse our audit reports about community development. This includes development services, planning and sustainability, neighborhood involvement, Prosper Portland (formerly known as Portland Development Commission) and urban renewal, equity and human rights, and housing.

Enhanced Services Districts: City provides little oversight of privately funded public services

Image of a two-dimensional map of Portland, Oregon with a focus on the west and east sides of the Willamette River. Areas on the west and east sides of the river are outlined to show the approximate enhanced services district boundaries.The City of Portland’s hands-off approach to overseeing enhanced services districts prioritizes the interests of some over the costs to others. Portland has three Enhanced Services Districts, which are privately funded zones authorized by the City to pay for services that supplement those already provided by the City. Once authorized, the City provides little oversight of the services delivered or how they may affect people. We recommend the City review the districts’ purpose and the City’s responsibility for them and revisit the district agreements. If the districts continue to provide services in public spaces, the City should develop guidelines for district formation, governance, and management that ensures public input, transparency and accountability by the districts and their service providers.

Report  |  Highlights  |  August 2020

Lents Urban Renewal: 20 years of investment with minimal evaluation

A close up of a map of Portland with the boundary of the Lents neighborhood in southeast Portland outlined within the mapThe City has invested $207 million since 2000 in Lents. This report includes economic, housing, and land use data, and a comparison to a similar neighborhood. The Housing Bureau has regularly reported on new housing units and analyzed affordability, but Prosper Portland did not comprehensively assess how investments have changed the Lents economy.

Report  |  February 2020


Cannabis Program: Management fundamentals needed to improve regulation of emerging industry

The audit found the Office of Community & Civic Life does not have fundamentals in place to successfully manage the Cannabis Program. These include having a program strategy and performance management data. We recommend that Civic Life develop a program strategy, implement a data management system to consistently track program performance and results, and develop communication tools to inform Council and the public about cannabis regulation.

Highlights Report  |  January 2020

Portland Housing Bond: Early implementation results mostly encouraging

The Portland Housing Bureau is off to a solid start in implementing the City's first-ever housing bond. The audit recommends the Bureau meet voter expectations of priority communities for future bond projects, improve documentation and communication, and evaluate whether bond projects not owned by the City reach target populations.

Highlights Report  |  June 2019

Follow-Up Report  |  September 2020


Clean-ups of Homeless Camps: Improved Communications and Data Needed

Portland created the Homelessness/Urban Camping Impact Reduction Program to address some of the impacts of people living on City property. This audit found that improvements are needed in communicating about cleanups, both with people reporting the camps to the City and those living in the camps and using data to manage the program.

Highlights  |  Report Video  |  March 2019

Follow-up report  |  June 2020


Short-Term Rental Regulation: Enforcement is lax and effect on housing crisis unknown

The City began regulating short-term rentals in 2014, and the market has more than doubled since then. The intent of regulations was that homes should be used primarily for residential rather than commercial purposes, but the City’s current approach cannot assure this. Most hosts do not obtain the required permits: only an estimated 22 percent of properties are permitted, and the City rarely enforces its regulations. Despite concerns about the effect of short-term rentals on housing availability and affordability, the City does not collect data needed to monitor the housing market. This audit’s findings rely on City permit and complaint data and Inside Airbnb data. Visual representations based on Inside Airbnb data can be found on the City Auditor’s website.

Interactive Data (Tableau)  |  Highlights  |  Report  |  August 2018

Follow-Up Report  |  October 2019

Portland Housing Bureau: Improved monitoring to protect housing investments

In a 2014 audit of Housing Bureau's loan programs we found a significant backlog in annual monitoring. We followed up this year to see if the system had improved. It had. We found improved systems to ensure that housing projects serve the intended population, are maintained in good condition, and remain financially viable over time.

 Report  |  January 2018

Prosper Portland: Disciplined property management needed to achieve future revenue goals, equitable outcomes

Prosper Portland plans to increase real estate income from $1.7 million, to its largest source of income at $16.2 million. We found that there were no income or strategic goals or equity plans for each property and that limited monitoring of outside operators led to problems in budgeting, maintenance, and maximizing revenue. To meet revenue goals and promote equity we recommend alignment with strategic goals and increased monitoring.

Highlights  |  Report  |  Video |  November 2017

Follow-Up Report  |  January 2020

Tree Code: Implementation phase shows progress and pitfalls

A comprehensive set of rules about trees went into effect in 2015 and applies to more trees than before. Initial results show improved protections for some trees but less positive results for other trees, as well as issues with implementation. We recommended addressing workload, technology, and compliance issues, as well as updating and aligning City plans and priorities. 

Highlights  |  Report  |  September 2017 

Portland Building Reconstruction: City faced with important post-planning decisions to ensure project success

As the City launches a high-profile reconstruction project with many complexities, we report on six key areas related to project constraints and public accountability challenges. We make recommendations to ensure effective, inclusive, and timely decisions will be made by stated milestones; greater budget transparency, and the development of an implementation plan for the additional community benefits associated with the project. We also share lessons learned from this project for future City construction projects in the Appendix

Highlights  |  Report  |  December 2016

Americans with Disabilities Act: Coordination gaps complicate City response 

The City has several requirements to meet Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act regarding accommodation requests and complaints. The audit found the City's current approach makes accommodation requests difficult for individuals with disabilities, and the process varies by bureau. More consistent data collection and analysis would help the City be more responsive to requests and complaints submitted by individuals with disabilities.

Highlights |  Report  |  December 2016

Follow-Up Report  |  March 2019

Further audits about community development 

Community and Neighborhood Involvement: Accountability limited, rules and funding model outdated - HIGHLIGHTS (Report 484) - 11/16/16

Community and Neighborhood Involvement: Accountability limited, rules and funding model outdated (Report 484) - 11/16/16

Green Buildings: Costs and outcomes need more attention (Report 480) - 9/1/16

Portland Development Commission: Management of on-call contracts inconsistent with Commission expectations - HIGHLIGHTS - (Report 474) - 1/13/16

Portland Development Commission: Management of on-call contracts inconsistent with Commission expectations - SUMMARY - (Report 474) - 1/13/16

Portland Development Commission: Management of on-call contracts inconsistent with Commission expectations FULL REPORT - (Report 474) - 1/13/16

Southwest Portland: Residents rate livability highly while some services are much worse than citywide (Report 467) - 7/8/15

Portland Children's Levy: Funds benefit children but goals and structure should be clarified (Report 468) - 2/24/15

Portland Development Commission: Human resources and payroll practices functioning effectively (Report 458) – 8/12/14

East Portland: History of City services examined (Report 435) - 4/23/14

Organic Waste: Residential collection increased, but challenges remain in larger commercial sector (Report 447) – 4/8/14

Building Permits: Extension practices inconsistent; documentation lacking (Report 420B) - 4/3/14

Housing Loan Program: Funding supports goals, but low repayment may jeopardize long-term success (Report 449) - 3/24/14

Residential and Commercial Inspections: Strengthen oversight and management practices; document procedures (Report 420A) - 9/25/13

Portland Development Commission: Records management systems in place, but support and direction needed (Report 442) - 4/30/2013

Urban Services Policy and Resolution A: Core City services not articulated; 30-year-old commitments obsolete (Report 433) - 3/26/13

Portland Development Commission: Indicators in Urban Renewal Areas suggest economic progress (Report 440) - 12/13/12

Residential Solid Waste: Customer rates accurate, but monitoring should continue (Report 429) - 6/20/12

Portland Housing Bureau: Bureau acting on risks, although more remains to be done (Report 421) - 5/23/12

PDC Economic Development Loans: Loan programs improved, but tracking major borrowers limited (Report 419) - 3/14/12

Portland Development Commission: Financial transaction review reveals areas warranting management attention ( Report 406B) - 2/16/12