My View: More thoughts on mayor's to-do list
Supporting a change to the current antiquated and wasteful commission form of governance would be appropriate.Â Having district representation would solve the lack of East Portland support by the City Council. Those commissioners inept at managing should not be given responsibility for bureaus.Â Similarly, bureaus with operational deficiencies should be reorganized.
As a retired land-use planner, I'd like to provide a different and perhaps broader perspective than the Jan. 3 commentary "To-do list for Mayor Wheeler" from Sarah Iannarone. Considering the preparations Ted Wheeler and his transition team have done and his progressive list of campaign pledges, I am hopeful that most of the issues identified in Iannarone's commentary will be addressed by the new mayor. I've listed the same issues and added to the analysis as follows.
• Establish a sanctuary city: Portland doesn't have to do this, as the Legislature already provides that intent. ORS 181A.820 states that no enforcement of federal immigration laws is permitted by law enforcement agencies of and within Oregon. The statute also says these agencies may (or may not) cooperate with ICE. If the city wants to adopt an acknowledgement of these ORS provisions, that would help clarify the city's position. But the city doesn't need to formally establish itself as a sanctuary city in order to act like one.
• Secure housing and prevent displacement: Gentrification has created displacement while encouraging substantial rent and price increases. Inclusionary zoning, rent control, affordable housing creation and homeless housing options are potential tools provided the City Council has the guts (and smarts) to initiate these.
What's unfortunate is that the city has not properly met State Goal 10 (housing) by not providing for housing choice at all income levels. No wonder there is a missing "middle." Increasing density will adversely affect livability if parking, streets, infrastructure, parks and landscaping are not considered. Wheeler's transition team has been discussing most of these issues for months. I trust they will act accordingly.
• Reform police for racial justice: This needs to happen for the sake of racial and cultural equity, not to mention public safety and trust. The grand jury process needs to be revamped so police are held accountable for excessive and/or illegal actions. Strong police oversight must be provided along with clear procedural guidance and training. Community partnerships with police need to be re-established and strengthened.
• Safer streets — Portland needs to make safer streets happen, and soon. With a quarter of a million new residents moving to the area within the next several years, 100,000 more vehicles on the road, deteriorating streets and virtually no consideration for increased traffic capacity, Portland needs to look at transportation holistically and stop the piecemeal approaches.
The first thing to realize is the car is not going away. Hybrids and electric cars will gradually replace gas guzzlers. People don't have a choice where they live anymore due to the economy and housing prices. Transit service is not convenient for many. Vision Zero will slow down traffic but do nothing to alleviate congestion. More marked crosswalks and intersection cameras are needed. The entire transportation system needs to be evaluated. ODOT needs to help more in dealing with congestion and traffic flows.
• Invest in resilient communities: Recovery won't be easy as long as a housing crisis and transportation problems exist. If a major evacuation were required right now in Portland, there would be massive gridlock. Likewise, most residents aren't aware of what to do or who to contact in cases of emergency. More information and education is required at a minimum.
In addition, the City Council needs to stop focusing on bureau fiefdoms and start acting as a "team" to address citywide problems. Supporting a change to the current antiquated and wasteful commission form of governance would be appropriate. Having district representation would solve the lack of East Portland support by the City Council. Those commissioners inept at managing should not be given responsibility for bureaus. Similarly, bureaus with operational deficiencies should be reorganized.
I have the utmost respect for Ted Wheeler and his team. They have a big job ahead of them dealing with the problems that have been allowed to fester. I encourage public input and support for their efforts.