December 18, 2018
I write to wish you and your family a happy and healthy holiday season and to share some highlights from this year.
I set three big goals for 2018: beat cancer, win my primary election, and pass a regional affordable housing bond. I am pleased to report that my cancer treatment is going well; I was reelected with over 60% of the vote; and voters overwhelmingly passed the $652 million Metro housing bond.
As 2018 comes to an end, I want to share some reflections and accomplishments from the past year with you. I also encourage you to pick up a copy of Street Roots this Friday and read my guest column that goes into more depth on several topics.
This summer, Mayor Wheeler reassigned bureaus. He asked me to lead Portland Parks & Recreation. Paired with the Bureau of Environmental Services, I couldn’t ask for better bureau assignments. My liaison roles include small business through Venture Portland; older adults through Elders in Action and Age-Friendly Portland; and film and TV through the Portland Film Office.
Housing and Homelessness
Affordable housing is the reason I first ran for City Council, and it continues to be my highest priority.
I helped to lead the Metro housing bond campaign. It will mean up to an additional $250 million for affordable housing in Multnomah County. And the passage of Measure 102 allows us to stretch those dollars by partnering with trusted nonprofit developers.
Last year, at my urging, Council set a goal of 2,000 new units of supportive housing by 2028. Supportive housing combines deeply affordable and safe homes with intensive services for people struggling with mental illness and/or addiction. We’re making progress, and a recent report by ECONorthwest confirmed that this is the best tool to address chronic homelessness.
Years in the making, the Water Bureau expanded their financial assistance program to reach cost-burdened renters. The Water Bureau has offered discounts to struggling families and older adults since 1995, but with a catch – you needed a water meter to qualify. Because many apartment buildings have a shared meter, renters were left out. This significant expansion will help families and older adults stay in their homes.
Parks and Recreation
I’m excited to be back at Portland Parks & Recreation. My early priorities with the bureau include finalizing the national search for a permanent director, deepening community partnerships, advocating for our fair share of resources during the budget process, aligning the work of PP&R and the Bureau of Environmental Services, and expanding our network of parks, trails and natural areas so they are more accessible – especially in East Portland.
In October, PP&R, Nike, and the Portland Trail Blazers cut the ribbon on a newly resurfaced basketball court at Parklane Park in East Portland. It’s the first of up to 100 courts to be resurfaced thanks to the public-private partnership, helping kids stay active and healthy.
Every summer, Portland kids and families converge on our parks for Summer Free For All, a series of fun and free concerts, movies, lunches, swim lessons, and more. I look forward to working with PP&R and the community to engage more sponsors and expand this successful program.
Clean Water and a Healthy Environment
I am committed to making Portland a healthier, more sustainable city.
For the first time in nearly 100 years, salmon will be able to access Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge. By replacing a small pipe with a new “salmon subway” – a large, natural-bottom culvert – Oaks Bottom will become an important rest stop for salmon in the Willamette River. This is our second “salmon sanctuary” project, following the successful restoration of Crystal Springs Creek in Eastmoreland.
We reached a major milestone in our ongoing “Poop to Power” effort – opening the City’s first natural gas fueling station. Every year, BES treats over 30 billion gallons of wastewater. A natural byproduct of the sewage treatment process is methane, a potent greenhouse gas. The plan is to capture the methane and convert it to renewable natural gas to fuel our vehicles. The goal: reduce emissions, replace dirty diesel fuel, and ultimately deliver a profit for ratepayers. A triple win!
And Mayor Wheeler and I continue to work with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the community, and public and private parties to clean up the Willamette River. We recently met with representatives from the EPA to discuss next steps.
Arts and Culture
I’m passionate about arts and culture. They are important to our local economy and our brand, they inspire us, and they make our community special.
We worked with Council colleagues to secure an early win – hiring an arts concierge service team in the Bureau of Development Services to help artists navigate the unique building codes that apply to them. We are exploring ways to showcase and support local artists through Portland Parks & Recreation. And we are developing a universal permit for film and TV productions, streamlining the process and strengthening our reputation as a great place to do business.
At a time of declining public trust in many institutions, including government, it is important that we earn that trust every day. That includes shining a light on conflicts of interest. Over the past year, I learned that the City’s policy on outside employment – or moonlighting – doesn’t give employees adequate guidance on City rules and places the burden on employees to disclose potential conflicts. Council passed my resolution to strengthen our policy, protect our employees, and reduce potential conflicts of interest.
A More Welcoming City
When we remove barriers and support a more inclusive community, everyone wins.
Last year, we launched a successful partnership with Project SEARCH. The pilot program in Environmental Services and the Portland Water Bureau provides opportunities and job experience for people with intellectual disabilities. Portland Parks & Recreation has now joined the partnership.
One death on our streets is too many. That's why I'm a strong supporter of Vision Zero and will continue prioritizing investments in safe streets, especially in East Portland. Recently, I voted to lower speed limits on residential streets to 20 MPH.
Drivers for Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) like Uber and Lyft operate in legal limbo – it’s not clear whether they are employees or independent contractors. That’s why I strongly support a TNC Wage Board. When up and running, it will give drivers a voice and a forum to resolve workplace disputes, including wage claims.
• Watching my son Chapin play high school soccer, and watching my daughter Maria complete the Seattle Marathon with a personal best time!
• Honoring the heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice on 9/11.
• Supporting small businesses at the inaugural Age-Friendly Business Awards.
• Delivering the keynote at DePaul Treatment Centers’ Freedom Luncheon.
• Accepting the Community Hero Award from Cascade AIDS Project on behalf of the City.
• Attending the Center For Women’s Leadership’s Power Luncheon, where Betsy Quitugua on my team received the Emerging Leader Award.
• Participating in the ribbon cutting for OHSU’s Knight Cancer Research Building.
Looking Forward to 2019
In 2019, I will continue to battle cancer. At work, I am focused on providing leadership to my bureaus, funding supportive housing, developing a robust plan for converting brownfields to productive use, implementing the arts affordability plan, and starting to plan for our next salmon sanctuary project in Tryon Creek.
Everything we do at City Hall requires collaboration. Thank you for what you do to make Portland a special place. I am honored to serve on your City Council.