Portland City Council to consider new downtown clean up program contact
The Portland City Council will consider a new contract with the Downtown Clean & Safe cleanup program next week that includes a first-ever mental health outreach team and other changes to speed the economic recovery.
It would also increase community oversight for the program that provides enhanced cleanup and security services funded by property owners.
The new contact is sponsored by Mayor Ted Wheeler and Commissioner Mingus Mapps. It is supported by Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt and the Downtown Portland Clean & Safe Board of Directors, which represents and manages the services funded by rate payers. It comes after a year and a half of mounting challenges to the downtown area.
"The City's partnership with Downtown Clean & Safe plays an important role in improving the vitality and livability of downtown, and in these difficult times, maintaining this relationship is more important than ever. We've addressed many concerns brought forth by the Enhanced Service District Audit in this new contract and incorporated the public's request for more transparency and reporting. This new contract provides flexibility to implement further reforms that may surface from ongoing conversations regarding the role and structure of enhanced service districts in Portland. Finding the balance between pushing forward improvements and maintaining needed services is the great challenge of responsible governance. This contract achieves that balance," said Mayor Ted Wheeler.
Downtown Clean & Safe is one of three enhanced service districts in Portland. where property owners have decided to financially support focused community resources. The updated scope of work for the new contract will direct the use of more than $6 million per year in district license fees to improve a 213-block area in the city center over the next five to 10 years.
District employee never stopped working during the pandemic. In this last year, they removed over 73,385 bags of garbage, more than 65,437 needles, 46,734 biohazards and over 41,637 graffiti tags.
The new contract would:
• Prioritize community safety with increased oversight provided by the new Enhanced Service District Coordinator, a requirement to follow Oregon de-escalation and training laws and standards for security staff; and new maximum of fifteen security staff per shift;
• Limit armed staff supporting Clean Start workers in performance of their cleaning duties to 25% and commit to revisiting funding for four-member Portland Police Bureau Bike Patrol by June 2022;
• Agree to new monthly reporting requirements to the Enhanced Service District Coordinator regarding complaints and calls for service;
• Partner with Central City Concern to fund a three-person community mental health outreach team, including a licensed clinician. Workers would focus on helping unsheltered people transition from the streets to county services. Sidewalk ambassadors will also shift their focus to community outreach and support;
• Continue to employ cleaners through the Clean Start Program run by Central City Concern. In addition to the current services, Clean & Safe has agreed to pull or cut weeds and pick-up trash at Streetcar stations;
• Continue the popular Downtown Marketing/Retail Programs/Holiday Lighting programs; and
• Commit to fully participate in a city process to evaluate Enhanced Service District governance and services and to renegotiate contract portions affected by resulting changes in city code.
"Downtown Clean and Safe is an absolute necessity to support economic recovery from both COVID and rampant vandalism. We are establishing new guidelines and reporting for the partnership that will increase transparency and make for more effective services," Mapps said. "Additionally, we are creating a new mental health outreach team that is similar to Portland Street Response. Security will have new training in trauma informed care and de-escalation."
"On behalf of the rate payers who comprise the 213 block district enhanced service district (ESD), we are excited about the opportunity to modernize and further enhance the operations that contribute to the vibrancy of our region's center city. The proposed changes to the scope of work represent an inclusive process that is responsive to the needs of all downtown stakeholders and the entire community," said Downtown Portland Clean & Safe Chair Cindy Laurila. "Our board and those who fund the district's services are particularly encouraged to see our city's leaders commit to basic services, and that mutual accountability will be the standard for both our city and ESDs into the future. As we look to the next decade, it is clear that the commitment of our funders to support a dedicated and clinically trained community health outreach team in the district to support the houseless communities connection to county and other mental health treatment is something I am particularly proud of."
"A thriving and welcoming downtown Portland is necessary for the recovery of our region and state's economy. As greater Portland's chamber of commerce and on behalf of our over 2000 members across the region, we are thrilled to see the advancement of this critical piece of our recovery move forward," added Portland Business Alliance President & CEO Andrew Hoan. "Downtown is our state's economic heartbeat and it needs this investment of public and private resources to retain and grow good-paying jobs. Downtown Portland Clean & Safe is an example of what happens when the public, private and non-for-profit sectors work together for the greater good. I am especially pleased with our deepening commitment to accountability and transparency."
More information is available at downtownportland.org.
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