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City of Portland Liquor, Cannabis and Noise programs move to Development Services

News Article
Photo of a bar. The photograph shows clean glasses stacked, cocktail shakers and shelves of liquor
This realignment, effective April 1, results from the ongoing restructuring of bureaus and offices following voters’ approval of Ballot Measure 26-228 in November 2022.

On March 22, the Portland City Council adopted an ordinance moving the Liquor, Cannabis and Noise programs from the Office of Community and Civic Life to the Bureau of Development Services. This move was directed through an earlier resolution that outlined realignments of programs across multiple City bureaus to reflect changes in authority for these programs.

These three programs, along with most of their current employees, will become a part of Development Services’ Property Compliance division. This division oversees the enforcement of the City’s property maintenance, housing, nuisance, building and zoning codes. The division also issues permits for accessory short-term rental units, adult care homes, and other specialized facilities.

“This is an exciting and unprecedented time at the City of Portland as we collectively prepare to implement the Charter reforms passed by the voters,” said Rebecca Esau, director of the Bureau of Development Services. “Our first step is assessing the City’s organizational structure to align programs and services in ways that will make it manageable for a new city administrator and better support efficient, equitable service delivery to the community.

“We’re very happy to be part of the first steps in the City’s re-organization and welcome these employees and their important work to the Bureau of Development Services,” she continued. “Promoting economic activity and neighborhood livability are central to everything we do, and we look forward to supporting these vital programs.”

With only one notable change to the Cannabis Program, these programs will continue providing the same services through Development Services. Here are brief descriptions of each program:

Liquor Program

The Liquor Program reviews applications for liquor licenses submitted to the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission (OLCC) by businesses located in the City of Portland. The Liquor Program consults with the Portland Police Bureau to provide background checks and investigate the proposed location of a liquor-related business for any concerns. The Liquor Program launches a public notification effort by posting an application online and, for new outlets, mailing a postcard to neighbors within a 300-foot radius of the proposed location. It requests comments of support or opposition to a proposed business within 30 days of the receipt of an application.

Cannabis Program

The Cannabis Program oversees all regulatory, licensing, compliance, community impact, and equity initiatives for the City’s legal adult-use cannabis industry. The program works directly with cannabis businesses and the OLCC to ensure the safe production and legal sale of cannabis products within the City of Portland.

Until now, the Cannabis Program has managed the Social Equity and Educational Development (SEED) Initiatives Program. The SEED Initiatives Program is a grant program that prioritizes historically excluded for-profit and non-profit business owners and projects, programs or services that support economic and educational development of Black, Indigenous and Latinx communities, which have been disproportionately impacted by cannabis prohibition. The SEED Initiatives Program is funded through the City’s three percent local cannabis tax on adult-use cannabis retail sales. As part of this realignment of services, the SEED Initiatives Program will be managed by Prosper Portland.

The City’s Cannabis Policy Oversight Team (CPOT) will continue to advise the Cannabis Program in Development Services on policies that support equitable access and outcomes for the cannabis industry, cannabis consumers, and all City of Portland residents.

Noise Program

The Noise Program enforces the City’s noise standards. It reviews requests for and issues City noise code variances for events such as music festivals, sports events, and construction-related activities. The program also educates the public on the health issue of urban noise pollution. The Noise Review Board will continue to advise City staff on ways to support community livability in the administration of the City’s noise code.