The Portland City Council is currently undergoing a process to update the decades-old City Code language (Code 3.96) which defines its citizen participation process. The Neighborhood Association system (which is overseen by the Office of Community and Civic Life) is a large part of the current Code Language, with detailed structures that give Neighborhood Associations access to City Bureaus, information, and funding. The Neighborhood Association system is nationally recognized as a model for public engagement in city government. However, current Code does not provide this type of access to any other grass-roots or community-based groups. The Code Change project aims to create a new system which would include Neighborhood Associations and other community groups in the system. We whole-heartedly agree that City Code should provide equal access for all residents to be involved in shaping city affairs and have access to city bureaus, regardless of the avenue they choose. The strength of our city lies in its diversity of voices coming together and learning to work in harmony.
We have grave concerns that the proposed Code language will not fulfill its intended goals. Instead of defining how a community group can gain access to information and funding, and thereby add more voices to the public involvement system, it removes the current structures entirely and states that details will be added as Administrative Rules. This is problematic, however, because Administrative Rules can change without public notice or input, and are vulnerable if future leaders hold different priorities. We fear that the current lack of structural detail will result in a less equitable distribution of resources and disproportionately benefit those already skilled in navigating existing social and political power structures. Less affluent Neighborhoods and underrepresented groups could get left out entirely. In order for an equitable system to have staying power, details and structures must be included in City Code Chapter 3.96. We feel that this is the only way to ensure that Portland ends up with a civic engagement system that matches its values.
To fulfill the Office of Community and Civic Life’s mandate and make City Code match the City’s values, we ask for specific structural details to be included in 3.96 Code language:
Providing these details in Code 3.96 will do two things: first, create a sort of “regulatory certainty,” where all community groups know exactly what is expected and what they can gain from engaging with the city; second, ensure that it outlives the current leadership of the overseeing Commissioner and Civic Life Director.
Please join us in asking the City to ensure that public involvement is done right for all Portlanders.
Get updates from the Office of Community and Civic Life: https://tinyurl.com/y3be552d
Write an email to City Commissioners:
Mayor Ted Wheeler: firstname.lastname@example.org
Nick Fish: email@example.com
Amanda Fritz: firstname.lastname@example.org
Chloe Eudaly: email@example.com
Jo Ann Hardest: firstname.lastname@example.org
Attend a meeting about the 3.96 Code Change Proposal. Next meeting scheduled for November 14th, 5:30 - 8pm, at Self Enhancement, Inc., 3920 N Kerby Ave.
Current 3.96 Code: https://www.portlandoregon.gov/citycode/28460
Proposed 3.96 Code: https://www.portlandoregon.gov/civic/article/740922
CKNA Chair Rachel Davies delivered public comment to Portland City Council on October 23rd to share our concerns. Testimony begins at timestamp 19:33 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kLb16o0QA4k&feature=player_embedded&fbclid=IwAR2-WDK4piYEtHY-jsP1qhx2Zm99GXgbtSZxQ-UUIZ8GwPcj4XFGSl4IOoE
Read CKNA's full letter here:
Updates from various committee members. Guest bloggers definitely welcome send us a blog idea if you would like!