POL Government Elected Officials Commissioner Amanda Fritz Sick Time
Revised Ordinance presented to Council 8/31/11



Create the Office of Equity, establish Council commitment and approve initial work plan (Ordinance; add Code Chapter 3.130)


The City of Portland ordains:


Section 1. The Council finds:


1.                  The equity vision in the Portland Plan (subject to final approval by City Council) declares a vision for Portland where:

a.       All Portlanders have access to a high-quality education, living wage jobs, safe neighborhoods, a healthy natural environment, efficient public transit, parks and green spaces, decent housing and healthy food;

b.      The benefits of growth and change are equitably shared across our communities, and no one community is overly burdened by our region’s growth.

c.       All Portlanders and communities fully participate in and influence public decision-making; and

d.      Portland is a place where your future is not limited by your race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability, age, income, where you were born or where you live.

2.                  Equity exists when everyone has access to opportunities necessary to satisfy essential needs, advance their well-being, and achieve their full potential.  Equity is both the means to healthy communities and an end that benefits us all.  We all are interconnected – as individuals within a community, and communities within society.  All communities need the ability to shape their own present and future.

3.                  Assuring equity and equal opportunity is a priority of the Portland City government. City leaders, bureaus and staff are committed to providing excellent services and opportunities to every Portlander.

4.                  The Council declares:

a.       Portland has become more diverse.  Communities of color and immigrant and refugee communities are growing.  Today, approximately 1-in-2 students in Portland’s public schools are students of color.

b.      Data presented by the Urban League of Portland’s State of Black Oregon (2009), and the Coalition of Communities of Color’s Communities of Color in Multnomah County: An Unsettling Profile (2010), shows that racial and ethnic disparities are pervasive and worsening over time.  In poverty, employment and education measures, Portland’s communities of color have outcomes between 15% and 20% worse than white communities. 

c.       Data presented by the Portland Commission on Disability demonstrates that significant disparities for persons with disabilities, including 80% of persons with intellectual or mental disability have been sexually assaulted; persons with disabilities are twice as likely to be earning $15,000 or less annually.  The national average unemployment rate for persons with disabilities is 18%, though many sources report it may be as high as 70% for persons living outside of institutions. (Oregon Office of Investigations and Training annual reports (2003-2010); the Attorney General’s Sexual Assault Task Force findings (2009); Final Report, Best Practices for the Employment of People with Disabilities in State Government, Equal Employment Commission (2005); and the National Adult Protective Services Association’s National Inventory 2008-2010).

d.      Data presented by the Coalition for a Livable Future’s Regional Equity Atlas (2007) highlights demographic disparities across the Metro region, and shifts in location of poverty and residences of communities of color between 1990 and 2000,

e.       The City recognizes the need to eliminate disparities based on race, ethnicity, national origin, English language proficiency, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, socio-economic status, source of income, geographic location of residence, familial status, disability, age,  physical and mental illnesses, and other factors.

f.        Data indicates that racial and ethnic disparities and those for people with disabilities are vast across all indicators, supporting the need for the City to lead with race and ethnicity as a starting focus, and also for disabilities to be an initial priority for the City and the Office of Equity.

g.       Equity will be a key priority internally, and in the City’s work with partners in government, private businesses, non-government organizations, academia and each community member.

h.       Achieving equity requires the intentional examination of policies and practices that, even if they have the appearance of fairness, may marginalize individuals or groups and perpetuate disparities. 

i.         Working toward equity requires an understanding of historical contexts, and active investment in social structures over time so that that all communities can experience their vision of success.

j.        Achieving equity requires commitment, collaboration, and clear, transparent communication with the cities, counties, and school districts of our region that serve as the primary structures for managing how resources are divided and how public services are provided.

k.      The Portland Public Schools Educational Equity Policy, Policy 210.010-P, attached as Exhibit A, is a good example of a governmental equity policy designed to address racial disparities

l.         Advancing equity for all Portlanders will require coordination with other equity work in not only in government, but also in private business, non government organizations, academia, and community groups, and the media

m.     Economic development, job creation, and the stable employment of people in our region are essential to achieving equity.

n.       Advancement of equity may require resources to be shifted and reallocated.

o.      The City Office of Equity must work with the City Attorney's Office and the Office of Management and Finance to help meet the City's legal obligations to protect and advance the civil rights of all persons, and to ensure that equity-related initiatives and implementation strategies are legally supportable.  

p.      The Portland City Council is committed to supporting the Office of Equity by ensuring it is strategically positioned within City government to coordinate between City Bureaus, assist with implementation, monitor compliance, foster accountability, and help the City become a leader in defining and achieving equitable outcomes and eliminating disparities.  


NOW, THEREFORE, the Council directs:


a.                   It is the commitment of the City Council to achieve equity in City government policies, procedures and practice.

b.                  The Office of Equity will provide leadership and coordination in facilitating systemic training, change and accountability to achieve equity in City government. 

c.                   The Office of Equity will work with all bureaus to eliminate disparity in City policies, processes, decisions and resource allocations; and with other governments, private businesses, non-government organizations, academia and each community member to achieve measurable results reducing disparities within the City and throughout the community.

d.                  The draft work plan for the Office of Equity attached as Exhibit ­A is an outline of the potential work of the Office.  The Office of Equity will finalize an initial work plan after it is staffed and begins operations. 

e.                   The Commissioner in Charge will provide a progress report to Council and the community within six months from the date of adoption of this Ordinance.  This report will include the structure of an advisory system for the Office of Equity, including community members and City staff.  

f.                    The Commissioner in Charge will request the Bureau of Human Resources to take actions to establish the Office of Equity Director classification, upon adoption of this ordinance.

g.                   Portland City Code is amended by adding a new chapter to create the Office of Equity as follows:

3.130.010        Creation and Organization

There is established the Office of Equity. The Office of Equity shall consist of the Director and such other employees as the Council may provide.  The Director shall report to the Commissioner in Charge.

3.130.020        Purpose

The purpose of the Office of Equity is to promote equity and address disparities within City government, and to work with community partners to promote equity and inclusion within Portland and throughout the region, producing measurable improvements and disparity reductions.

3.130.030        Director’s Powers and Duties

The duties of the Director of the Office of Equity include, but are not limited to:

A.     Overall administration of the Office and supervision of its staff;

B.     Implementing the policy directives of the City Council and the Commissioner in Charge;

C.     Developing an annual work plan to organize and prioritize the work of the Office.

D.     Working with all City bureaus, offices, boards and commissions, as well as regional partners in government, business and the community, to increase equitable outcomes and reduce disparities.

E.      Recommending implementation strategies, accountability mechanisms, evaluation standards, and specific actions to the City Council that will achieve the goals of the Portland Plan Equity Initiative, and other equity policies adopted by City Council.

F.      Providing reports to Council and the community annually and as indicated.


Passed by the Council:



Mayor Adams/Commissioner Fritz

Prepared by:  Tom Bizeau

Date Prepared:  August 31, 2011

LaVonne Griffin-Valade

Auditor of the City of Portland