About Sister Cities
Portland has nine sister cities and one friendship city. Our oldest relationship is with Sapporo, Japan, since 1959. Under the leadership of Mayor Bud Clark, Portland gained seven more sister cities: Guadalajara, Mexico, in 1983; Ulsan, South Korea, and Ashkelon, Israel, in 1987; Suzhou, China, Kaohsiung, Taiwan, and Khabarovsk, Russia, in 1988; and Mutare, Zimbabwe, in 1991. City leaders George Passadore, Jim Francesconi, and Joe D'Alessandro joined Italian Honorary Italian Vice Consul Andrea Bartoloni to establish the Bologna, Italy sister city relationship in 2003. In 2012, the Portland City Council voted to designate Utrecht, the Netherlands, as a friendship city.
The process of becoming a sister city is established in City Code. First, there must be an established non-profit organization made up of Portland citizens who pledge to keep a relationship active. The committee must be prepared to “undertake the financial and staffing requirements necessary to properly administer such a relationship.”
As far as the financial requirements, each non-profit must maintain at least a $10,000 balance in its bank account on a regular basis. Once an association obtains either friendship status or sister city status, the association must submit financial reports to the Director of International Relations on a regular basis. The city ordinance requires sister city associations to be both financially independent of and accountable to the Mayor of Portland. All sister city association programs are funded by donors and grants, not by the City of Portland.
As far as the staffing requirements, the association should conduct regular meetings and events in the Portland area throughout the year.
Once an association has been a friendship city for at least a year and maintains both the staffing and financial requirements, Portland City Council will vote on changing its status from a friendship city relationship to a sister city relationship.
The Director of International Relations works in the Office of Government Relations and is the liaison between the sister city and friendship city associations and the City Council.