December 11, 2023
Elisabeth Shepard, Press Secretary to Governor Kotek
Governor Kotek, Dan McMillan Release Portland Central City Task Force Recommendations
The task force delivers 10 concrete solutions to Portland’s most pressing challenges and a vision for its economic future
Portland, OR – Today, Governor Tina Kotek and Co-Chair Dan McMillan, president and CEO of The Standard, released a set of 10 priority recommendations from the Portland Central City Task Force (PCCTF) to be carried out in early 2024, as well as a long term strategic vision for economic prosperity for the region and, by extension, the entire state. Click here to view the PCCTF recommendations in detail.
“Confronting our most pressing challenges requires the hope and fortitude of an entire community,” Governor Kotek said. “Over the course of the last four months, members of the task force, the broader Portland community, and people across Oregon who know Portland’s success is a bellwether for the entire state have contributed to this effort in ways large and small, and I am incredibly grateful.
“We have a set of concrete recommendations, some the first of their kind, others that tap into Portland’s strengths in innovation, collaboration, art, and culture. The reward for a strong start is more work. I am committed to this effort and excited to see this work unfold.”
“When I look at this list from our Task Force committees, I see a set of refreshing, bold solutions that are smarter, stronger, and will be more effective than what any one person or governmental entity could achieve alone,” Dan McMillan said. “When the Governor and I convened the task force in late summer, it was under the theory that Portland’s challenges don’t solely rest on the shoulders of government, community, or business and that you need diverse, and sometimes unlikely, partnerships to get big things done. I believe we have proven our theory and we’re eager to move into implementation.”
Summary of top 10 recommendations for 2024:
Declare a tri-government fentanyl emergency. The State of Oregon, Multnomah County, and the City of Portland should each declare a 90-day emergency on fentanyl and establish a command center within the Central City, led by the State, where daily communication, coordination, and triage of the fentanyl crisis will be carried out. The command center is focused on enhanced coordination and does not change authority or oversight of existing bureau or department management. Community-based providers (including outreach workers and peers), public health efforts, and law enforcement resources across all three governments should be leveraged for this effort, with an emphasis on refocusing existing resources, including expanding hours of operation during which providers can accept clients, to better meet the Central City’s needs and carve out a path to exit the emergency.
Ban the public use of controlled substances and reduce barriers to prosecuting drug delivery. The Legislature should consider legislation to ban public use of controlled substances and to restore law enforcement’s ability to prosecute for attempting to deliver controlled substances to another party based on the amount of drugs in possession.
Ramp up existing infrastructure for effective and speedy implementation of a Public Use Ban, pending legislative approval. Ramp up Multnomah County’s Promoting Access To Health (PATH) program to meet the needs of Portland’s Central City and be at the ready in the event of a statewide public use ban on controlled substances.
Focus peer delivered services and street outreach workers in the Central City. Peer delivered services and outreach workers, which will be leveraged under the emergency declaration recommendation above, should be coordinated to focus outreach in the Central City where the need is most acute to yield better client outcomes.
Increase safe and accessible options for unsheltered people. Hundreds of people sleep unsheltered in the Central City and lack adequate daytime safety off of the streets. Daytime services for unsheltered people should be sustained and increased, including exploring options to expand access to publicly available bathrooms and hygiene services. Multnomah County has allocated $3 million towards daytime services that will be procured through early 2024. In early December, the County Chair and Mayor proposed a three-year contract for the Joint Office of Homeless Services with clear measurable outcomes including a 50 percent reduction in unsheltered street homelessness in 2 years, improved data available in a public budget dashboard, daily shelter bed availability and quarterly report on goals and an improved governance structure to address the full Homelessness Response System.
Expand Central City’s homeless shelter capacity. Increasing and sustaining shelter capacity is a top priority. Multnomah County is directing $9 million to improve flow-through from existing shelters to permanent housing. Additionally, the County is funding 50 additional shelter pods at existing safe village sites and 300 shelter spaces at two Temporary Alternative Shelter Sites (TASS). They are projected to open in spring 2024.
Further elevate law enforcement response in the Central City. The City and State should build on recent enhanced patrols action, including the following tactics:
- Extend the additional police presence from the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) and Oregon State Police (OSP) in the Central City into 2024.
- Increase the number of City Park Rangers assigned to Central City parks through April.
- Request that PPB evaluate opportunities for additional utilization of Public Safety Support Specialists to strengthen police response throughout the city while sworn officers are deployed in Central City.
- Immediately amend the Clean and Safe contract to allow flexibility for staffing and deployment of additional officers in the Central City.
- Ensure that the Department of Public Safety Standards & Training (DPSST) maintains the needed class sizes to accommodate the training needs of PPB.
Clean up the city. Conduct community mapping of the Central City’s biggest trouble spots, informed by a pilot program developed last fall. Activate SOLVE, AdoptOneBlock, and Trash for Peace to systematically work through a prioritized list of trash and graffiti hotspots. The Governor will seek $20 million in ODOT funding in the 2024 legislative session for trash and graffiti removal and prevention. Prosper Portland has also identified up to $500,000 to commission public art investments.
Bring down the 2020-era fences and plywood. The boarded up condition of the Federal Courthouse, The Justice Center, and some downtown businesses sends the wrong signal to visitors. The federal General Services Administration, the County and City, and businesses should prioritize taking down fencing and plywood before the 2024 Rose Festival.
Declare a moratorium on new taxes and offer targeted tax relief. Portland is the second highest taxed city in the nation; we trail New York City by only a fraction. Elected officials should agree to a three-year pause, through 2026, on new taxes and fees. A Tax Advisory Group should be established to study and evaluate improvements to our taxing structure, and state and local governments should identify a few targeted incentives, including an expansion of the Business License Tax (BLT) downtown tax credit.