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Welcome to Amanda's blog
Mountain Biking in Forest Park and other Portland Parks
A couple of weeks ago, Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) staff and I informed the Northwest Trail Alliance's leaders that we cannot move forward with their proposal to build a mountain biking trail adjacent to Fire Lane 5 in Forest Park. This project was initially considered while Commissioner Fish was in charge of PP&R. There are three main reasons why I have made the decision to halt consideration of a new trail. First, Parks has no funding for a major construction project in Forest Park – neither for a new biking trail, nor for significant natural resource restoration or pedestrian improvements. We have neither staff to plan more projects, nor money to build them. Second, PP&R leaders and I believe that a citywide Master Plan for cycling recreation is needed prior to embarking on individual projects. And third, once we evaluated the proposed trail on the draft criteria in the Forest Park Project Objective Screening Tool [see here], it became clear that the project would likely not pass Environmental Review in relation to the Forest Park Natural Resources Management Plan. The POST is a tool which staff will use for initial evaluation of development and improvement proposals for Forest Park that would have some impacts in relation to the environmental, recreational, and/or wildfire aspects of the Natural Resources Management Plan.
Portland Parks has a list totaling over $400 million in identified Capital Improvement Projects desired in the community. There is very little funding to address these needs. The Parks Budget Advisory Committee has worked hard over the past four months to review the bureau's finances and recommend additional funding requests to be submitted to the Council for the 2014-15 City Budget process. While about $300,000 was added to PP&R's maintenance budget in the fall Budget adjustments, PP&R has over $450 million in deferred maintenance needs - including many projects in Forest Park. While a citywide recreational cycling Master Plan is surely needed, PP&R doesn't have General Fund resources to allocate to the project at this time.
When funding is available, and when all sides are ready to collaborate on a Master Plan for cycling facilities in Portland's parks, we will conduct a citywide public process to discuss and decide where to provide mountain biking trails and skill parks in the City of Portland. This Master Plan process will hopefully include working with other regional park providers. In the meantime, I invite leaders of cycling interest groups to work with PP&R and me to educate cyclists who use Portland’s parks regarding shared stewardship of parks and natural areas, and about the significant funding challenges faced by PP&R.
PP&R will be working to address illegal use of parks and natural areas by cyclists not using approved trails. Our natural areas in particular are essential for providing wildlife habitat and improving water quality by protecting native vegetation and trees. There are inherent conflicts with co-location of certain recreational activities, including safety issues for cyclists, hikers, runners, joggers, birders, and strollers. That’s why we need a City-wide (preferably regional) Master Plan.
There is a range of mountain biking styles from casual rides with family to professional level training rides. Not all parks are suitable for all types of mountain biking. A Master Plan would guide us on what makes sense where, and help to provide a quality user experience for all park visitors. PP&R currently lacks funding and staff for a Citywide Master Plan process. The project will be considered for prioritization in the 2015-16 budget planning public process.
February 1, 2014 | Comments (0) | Post a Comment (Sign-In Required)
Forest Park Project Objective Screening Tool
In January 2014, Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) published the approved version of the Forest Park Project Objective Screening Tool (POST), posted here. This methodology for initial screening of proposed projects in Forest Park was developed by PP&R natural resources staff, with public input over the first six months of my tenure as Parks Commissioner. The POST provides a summary of previous studies relating to this jewel in the crown of Portland's parks and natural areas, with important factors converted into a scoring grid that evaluates proposed projects to see if they would be likely to pass Environmental Review under the Forest Park Natural Resources Management Plan's standards and approval criteria.
Other information about Forest Park Management Initiatives is posted here.
If a project passes the initial test of getting by the POST, staff will evaluate whether there is funding for planning and constructing the facility. If the answer to that question is Yes, then an appliction for Environmental Review will be prepared, with defined levels of public input to the Bureau o f Development Services on whether the proposal meets the applicable standards and approval criteria. If the application for Environmental Review is approved, the project will move to the construction phase after receiving approval of necessary permits.
Currently, there is very little funding available for new projects in Forest Park. The entire PP&R has a backlog of over $400 million on the list of desired new projects, and over $450 million in needed deferred maintenance. Neighborhood parks leaders have formed district/coalition parks committees to give advice on funding priorities in each area of Portland. Please contact your neighborhood office (call 503-823-4000 to find out your local information) and join these discussions. When individuals contact me to advocate for a particular need or park, I refer them to the Parks Committee in their area. There is not enough money to do all the needed improvements, and the Parks Committees are crucial for advising me on making the difficult choices for priorities.
February 1, 2014 | Comments (0) | Post a Comment (Sign-In Required)
Two new parks for East Portland
On Thursday, I announced that Portland Parks & Recreation will be investing over $12 million from funds paid by developers of new construction, to build two new parks in East Portland. Full details here.
Over the next few weeks, there will be further announcements about investments to expand parks facilities in every neighborhood district/coalition area of Portland. I appreciate the input of community parks enthusiasts who have helped prioritize where to spend scarce resources. While the amount available is far short of the $400 million needed to provide all the needed facilities on the Parks Capital Improvement Project list, it is wonderful to be able to get started on addressing the backlog.
Please note that this source of funds, System Development Charges, may only be used for new construction, by state law. It may not be used for maintenance or programs. Thanks to an ordinance passed by Council in 2006, all new Parks facilities are allocated additional General Fund ongoing funds to pay for operations and maintenance of the new feature. So adding new parks does not increase the $450 million deficit in Parks maintenance for the entire portfolio of 206 parks citywide.
February 1, 2014 | Comments (0) | Post a Comment (Sign-In Required)
Volunteers needed for Golf Advisory Committee
Portland Parks and Recreation and I seek new members for the Golf Advisory Committee.
The 10 member Golf Advisory Committee advises the Parks & Recreation Director and the Commissioner in Charge of Parks on Golf program related matters. These include the Golf program’s Strategic Plan, operating budget and capital improvement projects, concession sales, management and lease contracts and proposals, marketing of the system, attracting more participants, and any other matter that furthers the public interest toward the development and operation of one of the best municipal golf systems in the country.
Members of this Committee are appointed to a three year term. Meetings are held the second Wednesday of each month at noon. Serving on the Committee provides members with complimentary passes to allow each volunteer to play at each of the five public golf courses once each season (20 passes annually), in order to be aware of conditions, needs and opportunities at each course.
Our 90 year old system is one of the best in the nation. Our public courses provide affordable recreation, and multiple environmental and neighborhood benefits on more than 600 acres of valuable urban open space. People representing underserved communities, such as youth, socioeconomically-disadvantaged players, and diverse areas of the city are especially encouraged to apply.
I would like to hear from anyone who is interested in preserving and expanding this legacy for generations to come by serving on the Golf Advisory Committee. Please contact Tim Crail in my office at 503-823-3988 to request an interest form. Applications are due no later than noon on Wednesday, January 8. I hope you will share this invitation with those who may be interested.
December 18, 2013 | Comments (0) | Post a Comment (Sign-In Required)
Volunteers needed for Adjustment Committee and Historic Review Commission
The Bureau of Development Services and I seek volunteers to serve on two important community advisory groups that make decisions on development applications.
The Adjustment Committee holds public hearings to consider appeals of Adjustment decisions rendered by Bureau of Development Services staff. Adjustments are requests to modify the development standards of the Portland Zoning Code (Title 33). The Adjustment Committee meets the first and third Tuesdays of each month, if necessary, during normal business hours. Each meeting typically lasts approximately 2 to 3 hours.
Committee members serve four-year terms and may be re-appointed The terms are a maximum of four years with a maximum of two full terms. The Committee consists of seven members, none of whom may hold public elective office. The Committee must include three persons representing the public at large; two members in urban design, architecture, or landscape architecture; and two members experienced in engineering, financing, construction, building management or land development.
There are currently two vacant Adjustment Committee positions. One must be filled by an individual representing the public at large (not from one of the named professions), the other by a professional representing engineering, financing, construction, building management or land development interests.
The Historic Landmarks Commission hears proposals for large scale infill and new development in Historic Preservation and Conservation Districts. They also review appeals of smaller scale proposals to existing designated Landmarks, and alterations to existing structures in Historic Preservation and Conservation Districts. The Historic Landmarks Commission meets the 2nd and 4th Monday of every month, during normal business hours. The meetings can last from 2 to 4 hours each time.
Commission members serve four-year terms and may be re-appointed. The terms are a maximum of four years with a maximum of two full terms. The Commission consists of seven members, none of whom may hold public elective office. The Commission must include a historian with knowledge of local history; an architectural historian; an architect; two members from the following: landscape architecture, real estate, construction, community development, urban planning, archeology, law, finance, cultural geography, cultural anthropology, or related disciplines; and two members at-large.
There are currently two vacant positions on the Historic Landmarks Commission, both in the "public at large" category.
Applications should be submitted to the Office of Neighborhood Involvement with a cover letter describing the applicant’s interest, background and experience, or a resume. Applications should be submitted by January 8, 2014.
Applications from underrepresented communities such as people with disabilities, bilingual and/or bicultural individuals, and community/neighborhood advocacy groups are particularly welcome. Appointments are made by Council, with recommendations from the Commissioner in Charge (me!) and my staff.
We hope to have the positions filled in January 2014, with a potential start date at the end of January 2014 for the Historic Landmarks Commission, and February 2014 for the Adjustment Committee. For more information about the Adjustment Committee, please contact Douglas Hardy with Bureau of Development Services at 503-823-7816, or Douglas.Hardy@portlandoregon.gov.
For more information about the Historic Landmarks Commission, please contact Tim Heron with the Bureau of Development Services at 503-823-7726, or Tim.Heron@portlandoregon.gov.
Interested citizens should contact the Office of Neighborhood Involvement at 503-823-4519 for the application form. The form may also be accessed through the ONI website at www.portlandonline.com/oni.
December 18, 2013 | Comments (0) | Post a Comment (Sign-In Required)
Response to mistletoe selling without a permit
The following is the response I sent earlier this week to Ashton Root and his daughter Madison, the Lake Oswego family who felt the young girl should not have to comply with Portland's regulations:
Thank you for your message. I hope you agree that rules should apply to everyone. As I was raising my three children, and even now that they are in their twenties, I have found things go better if the rules are clear and evenly applied.
Saturday Market is a commercial venture where people selling goods and services pay a permit fee to be part of a magnet that attracts buyers from all over the Metro region as well as tourists. It would not be reasonable to charge a vendor in the Market to sell mistletoe, while allowing anyone to sell just outside the Market area without a permit.
Portland Parks has a permit/license agreement with Saturday Market. They control who gets to sell what at the Market. Your daughter should contact Saturday Market to them about permission to sell mistletoe at the Market. Their web site is here: http://www.portlandsaturdaymarket.com. My understanding is that your daughter was told by Saturday Market’s security that she couldn’t sell there, not by Parks Rangers or Portland Police.
Portland’s parks are public spaces where permits are required to sell goods and services. Otherwise, parks all over the city could be full of vendors every day, potentially impacting the park experience for those who go to get away from the hustle and bustle of life in a big city.
Oregonians value free speech and freedom of expression. Our Constitution gives more weight to these values than the United States Constitution. People are allowed to ask for money, to play bucket drums and ask for tips, and to ask for signatures on ballot measures, both in parks and on sidewalks.
It would be legal for your daughter to stand near Saturday Market with bags of mistletoe and a sign that said, “Mistletoe – donations welcome.” When I was a little older than your daughter and began my career by earning money babysitting, I did not set a fixed price per hour for my services. I told those who hired me that whatever they felt was fair was fine with me. I found that I was paid more than my contemporaries who charged a fixed amount per hour. Your daughter may find that she makes more money suggesting she would welcome donations than by selling at a fixed price.
I hope this clarifies the rules for both Saturday Market and Parks/sidewalk policies. One component in success in business is knowing the rules and following them. I trust that the publicity this experience has garnered will help your daughter’s sales. I look forward to the day when dental care will be covered by the Affordable Care Act, so no child or parent has to worry about how to pay for braces.
Follow-up: Portland Saturday Market leaders contacted the Root family and offered a free permit for her to sell within the market. The Oregonian's Shane Kavanaugh reported on additional outcomes: http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2013/12/madison_root_mistletoe.html#incart_m-rpt-2…
December 7, 2013 | Comments (1) | Post a Comment (Sign-In Required)
Winter Shelter options
Severe Weather Notice: The National Weather Service forecasts overnight lows between 12° and 24° F, lower with wind chill, for the evenings of Thursday, December 5th, Friday, December 6th, Saturday, December 7th and Sunday, December 8th, 2013.
December 5, 2013
Really really interesting statistics
At the City Council's first Budget session for the 2014-15 fiscal year, we were treated to informational presentations from the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, the state of Oregon, and polling expert Adam Davis of DHM consultants. Really, really interesting. Honestly. Please read them, and post comments below.
Portland Jobs Analysis 2013 (Powerpoint presentation)
Portland Today – Council Work Session Slides
Job Polarization Study
Oregon Opinions Survey 2013
There is also information from the City Budget Office, which gives the good news that there is likely to be a small amount of money above current service level costs, in the next budget.
FY 2014-15 Budget Outlook
November 6, 2013 | Comments (0) | Post a Comment (Sign-In Required)
Landlord Education Classes
Fall 2013 Landlord Training classes
The Bureau of Development Services, Portland Police Bureau, and Portland Fire and Rescue will hold four training sessions for landlords, on 11/16, 11/19, 12/14, and 2/16. The content is the same at each, just pick the time and location most convenient for you.
The training will help individuals be effective property managers, become aware of maintenance obligations, and learn techniques to stop the spread of illegal activity and property damage on rental property. If you would like to register for a class, please click here. The trainings are provided without cost to attendees.
November 6, 2013
Agreement reached on moving the historic Rayworth House
Press release issued on 9/16/13:
On Friday, September 13, 2013, Portland Parks & Recreation, Roy and Kim Fox, and the Boise and Humboldt Neighborhood Associations entered into an agreement to save the historic Rayworth House while also protecting street trees. The agreement formalizes a modified move route for the house, and a commitment to assess the actual (rather than estimated) impacts to trees when the move of the house is completed, now limited to $10,000. The date for the move has yet to be finalized but is expected to occur in the next week.
September 16, 2013 | Comments (2) | Post a Comment (Sign-In Required)
At-Large Members needed for Washington Park Transportation Management Association Board
I am seeking At Large members for the Washington Park Transportation Management Association Board. The Washington Park TMA Board meets the second Thursday of each month at 8:00-9:30 at the World Forestry Center, Merlo Hall. The first meeting for the new at-large members would be October 10th. In addition, the time commitment is probably 1-2 additional hours per month regularly. We will also be looking for volunteers as the pay parking program rolls out in October, and at key times like Zoolights during the first year, but this would not be ongoing.
New members would need a few hours of initial start up time to meet with Board members, Heather McCarey (the new ED), and to review documents to get up to speed. My staff would, of course, assist with the orientation and ongoing staffing needs.
Here is the organization’s purpose from the draft bylaws:
The Corporation's purpose is to implement governmental & nonprofit agreements to help ensure the long-term success of the City of Portland’s Washington Park and its venues and to minimize the impact of Park visitors on the Park and adjacent neighborhoods by maximizing safe and convenient access to, from and within Washington Park, its venues and adjacent neighborhoods.
Please ask send me an email to express interest. There isn’t an application form, just email me giving reasons why you want to serve on this Board, and we’ll go from there. I am particularly looking for people who normally drive to use the park facilities; for park visitors from east of the Willamette, deep SW Portland, and/or Washington/Clackamas Counties; and for representatives from low-income neighborhoods and communities of color.
September 8, 2013
Thoughts on Development Services and Parks, four weeks later
It's been four weeks and two days since Mayor Hales announced the assignments for which member of Council is in charge of each bureau. Since I wasn't expecting to be the Commissioner in Charge of the Bureau of Development Services (BDS), and Portland Parks & Recreation (PPR), my staff and I have spent time learning about the bureaus. My initial comments on these bureaus are posted here.
I have not opened comments on this post, as I am leaving on vacation after my community events on July 4, and won't be following either this blog or my email. I'm visiting my 83-year old mother, who doesn't believe in new fangled Internets (but is better than me at texting). Please contact my staff for assistance while I'm gone, or call 503-823-4000 for the City's wonderful Information and Referral staff.
I look forward to re-engaging with Portlanders when I return on July 24.
July 3, 2013
The Power of One
Last week, the final vote on the Fiscal Year 2013 - 2014 City of PortlandBudget was held at a public meeting in Council Chambers on Thursday June 20. I voted No, as I had done on May 29 when the Council voted provisionally on the budget. Read why, in my speech here.
While some improvements were made since May, notably Mayor Hales agreeing to my request to fund an additional inspector for sub-standard rental housing in East Portland, there were no discussions or changes on my core objections. Several significant reductions and additions to the Budget had gone counter to the spirit of the zero based budget approach. In particular, services provided to survivors of human trafficking were reduced by $117,000 - a cut of 24% from current year funding. That is a significant cut. I understand that we had to cut over $20 million from current services in this Budget, however the Adopted Budget added back programs that are not necessary to core values and services. And $117,000 in a General Fund budget of $397 million? What could be more important than assisting women and children who are being sold into prostitution here in our community?
I appreciate many, many people who emailed me and stopped me in the community to tell me you support my stand. I voted No on the overall Budget at the 2 p.m. session on Thursday, to stay true to what I believe are our community's priorities. Then I left to hurry up to PSU, where I joined former Senator Margaret Carter and former Superintendent of Education Susan Castillo, in a panel speaking to young women from all over Oregon participating in the week-long New Leadership Oregon (NLO) training. I apologized for being late, saying, "It was perhaps a complete waste of my time and yours that I stayed to vote, because it didn't make any difference to the outcome, but I felt I needed to say what needed to be said."
It turned out my No vote did matter.
My staff called during the NLO presentation to tell me the vote on the Budget was an Emergency Ordinance, requiring all present to vote in favor. By voting No, even though I lost 4-1, I was the prevailing party. The motion failed, and unless I returned to City Hall and changed my vote, the City government might have to shut down at midnight on June 30. No Adopted Budget, no funding for City services. I hadn't realized it was an Emergency Ordinance and had never intended to create that outcome. Suddenly, one vote, one person, made a huge difference.
While walking back to City Hall, I spoke with the City Attorney, Jim Van Dyke, and assured him I would 'move to reconsider'. As the prevailing party, only I could do that. Note to aspiring politicians: Learn Roberts' Rules of Order, and volunteer in a role that allows you to practice using them. I will always be grateful to the SW Neighborhoods, Inc. Board, and the late great Patty Lee, for training me in Roberts' Rules.
Arriving back in City Hall, I asked to meet with Mayor Hales. I said, "If I'd realized the Budget was an Emergency Ordinance, we would have had this conversation on Monday, but now that we both know it is, let's talk." While I could have demanded more, I proposed a reasonable compromise that would keep the Mayor's budget and City services on track. The Mayor graciously agreed.
Council reconvened in the chambers, after a hastily-noticed Emergency Session. I moved to reconsider the previous vote, then voted Yes on the Budget -- with the stated understanding that I will bring an ordinance to Council later this calendar year, requesting additional funding for services provided to survivors of human trafficking. I plan to convene discussions with leaders of agencies and non-profits offering those programs, to determine collaboratively what is most urgently needed. I will return to Council with a request to draw on the City's contingency reserve for funding.
Last November, voters re-elected me with almost 60% of the vote. This past Thursday, I felt very happy that I worked so hard to win that campaign, with the support of many ardent community volunteers. My husband and I invested our family savings in that election -- in our community -- and voters trusted me, so that I can continue to be your voice in City Hall. Sometimes, one vote does make a difference.
June 24, 2013 | Comments (0) | Post a Comment (Sign-In Required)
Speech at the vote on the City's 2013 - 14 budget
I was going to title this blog post "Comments ...", but when comments run close to 15 minutes and are read from a script, it's a speech.
So, my comments/speech on the 2013 - 14 City Budget are posted here.
The short version: I can't vote for a budget allocating $397 million in discretionary spending, that cuts $117,000 (24%) from services to children and women escaping human trafficking. Especially when at the same time, the Portland Police Bureau is planning to cut 22%, four of 18 officers, from the Family Services Division that investigates child abuse, elder abuse, and domestic violence. We should prioritize spending to provide more support for the most vulnerable people in our community. While the Budget approved by the majority of the Council today does that, in part, by allocating full funding to the Housing Safety Net, the Approved Budget reduces the City's commitment to resolving the horrors of prostitution.
Commissioner Saltzman asked a good question at the end of the hearing. In response, we learned that the current General Fund total for 2012 - 13 is approximately $502 million, the new total General Fund is $493 million. In "discretionary resources", current is $413 million, upcoming year $397 million. So in six months, the gap has gone from $25 million to $16 million. Some reasons for that are the state PERS legislation; resolution of the CenturyLink law suit confirming the City's right to equalize telephone taxes on land lines, as enacted by the 2012 Council; and expected agreements from City unions to accept a lower Cost of Living Adjustment than the inflation index. I was disappointed the Council was not more involved in deciding which cuts to add back to the funding list, after it became clear the deficit was less extreme than first appeared.
There may be some minor changes to the Approved Budget when it is formally adopted in June. Questions were raised at the hearing about cuts to City Hall and Portland Building security staff, and also about adding another inspector for the Enhanced Rental Inspection program in East Portland. But for the most part, the 2013 - 14 City of Portland Budget is done. Congratulations to Mayor Hales and his staff, the City Budget Office, and everyone who advocated successfully for funding for jobs, programs, and services. Thank you to all who sent comments and participated in the six Community Budget events. Community involvement made many differences in which services will be provided starting in July.
May 29, 2013 | Comments (2) | Post a Comment (Sign-In Required)
Response to Petition on Saving the Mounted Patrol
In the past three days, I have received 217 emails notifying me that people (some Portlanders, some not) have signed an on-line petition asking to preserve funding for the Portland Police Bureau's Mounted Patrol. Unfortunately, the web site generating this petition does not provide me with the emails of those signing, so I have no way to reply to each person individually. I am therefore posting this response in the hope that some of the petitioners will read it. This is not a particularly satisfying human interaction, more my computer posting information in response to the petitioner's computer, but the best I can do. Note: On line petitions are far less effective than direct individual emails, even if you send just one sentence of your own thoughts!
This is a difficult budget, slashing at least $20 million after four years of cuts. There are few easy targets, and many who support each service currently being funded. I will work with my colleagues on the Council, considering all community input, to make decisions that provide the most services to the people and principles most in need of support. We will be making choices such Mounted Patrol vs winter shelter for homeless women? Mounted Patrol vs 9-1-1 operators? Mounted Patrol vs after school programs for disadvantaged kids? These are just a few examples of the stark realities – we don’t have enough money for all of the worthy programs currently being funded, and donations from Friends of the Mounted Patrol don’t come close to covering the ongoing expenses.
The challenge is not only the extra funding needed for the horses, rather prioritizing which police functions are more vital in crime prevention and community safety than others. We likely need to cut at least 40 police officer positions. So the choice is Mounted Patrol officers vs School Resource officers? Mounted Patrol officers vs Gang Enforcement officers? Mounted Patrol vs child abuse investigators? Mounted Patrol officers downtown vs District Patrol officers in outer neighborhoods?
I would be interested to read Portlanders' priorities on these funding choice examples. Please send your comments directly to me at Amanda@portlandoregon.gov You are welcome to post your opinions here to discuss with others, however I will be using my time to respond to direct emails rather than interacting on the comment string here.
May 5, 2013 | Comments (2) | Post a Comment (Sign-In Required)
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