How Civic Life Supports Neighborhood Associations
The City of Portland currently has 94 volunteer-led neighborhood associations. Each neighborhood association is connected to a specific neighborhood boundary. Neighborhood associations are one way that neighbors can organize and address important issues within their neighborhood. Neighborhood associations also play a role in creating a sense of community and belonging.
Every bureau with the City of Portland has a set of codes. These codes detail rules and regulations that each bureau must abide by. Code 3.96 is the portion of Civic Life’s code that establishes the City’s recognition of neighborhood associations as well as the bureau’s responsibly to neighborhood associations. A neighborhood association needs to follow the ONI standards to be recognized by Code 3.96
Civic Life does not provide direct funding to neighborhood associations, instead we provide grant funds to district coalition offices (DCO). There are seven DCOs in Portland, each support a designated section of Portland and their neighborhood associations within their boundaries. Currently, there is a mix of City-run and independently managed DCOs. See Neighborhood Association Structure and ONI Standards section below for more details.
DCOs use part of their funding received from Civic Life to support neighborhood associations, including:
- Providing a permanent mailing address,
- Distributing insurance to neighborhood association to ensure their events are safe for all participants, and
- Offering support around event equipment, connections to City resources and meeting space.
Here are other ways that Civic Life supports neighborhood associations:
- We maintain a database of neighborhood association board contacts. This database (affectionately known as the ONI database) is used by many City of Portland bureaus so that they can deliver important information, such as land use notifications, area permit parking, tree permits and more.
- We keep a public directory of neighborhood associations on our website so that Portlanders can find their association and locate upcoming meetings.
- We help to promote neighborhood associations work through our social media and bi-monthly newsletter.
Neighborhood Association Structure and ONI Standards
Most Portland neighborhood associations are incorporated non-profit organizations. Some also have acquired federal tax-exempt status under the IRS rules. Neighborhood associations are not obligated to adopt a particular structure or model of governance. In fact, neighborhood associations, through their bylaws, may construct models of governance that fit their unique needs.
Regardless of a neighborhood association’s structure, each association is required to follow Civic Life’s ONI standards to be officially recognized by the city. The ONI Standards establish broad rules for the operation of neighborhood associations and bylaws.
Find Your Neighborhood Association
Find out which neighborhood association services your neighborhood by visiting Portland Maps. Enter in your address and the result screen will show a map of your area on the left and basic property information on the right. The fourth item on the property information list is “Neighborhood” , this item indicates your neighborhood association.
History of Neighborhood Associations
In 1974, the City of Portland created the bureau, the Office of Neighborhood Associations. In part, the City prioritized creating this bureau to support Portland’s unique commissioner form of government.
Portland’s government structure is unique because commissioners represent the entire city, unlike other cities that elect politicians to advocate for the needs of specific neighborhood boundaries. By creating the Office of Neighborhood Associations, the City was establishing a direct channel for neighborhood associations to engage in City decision-making, determine neighborhood needs, and represent neighborhood interests in land use and development decisions.
More than 40 years later, our bureau has expanded our support to include not just neighborhood associations but culturally specific organizations and non-profit organizations. We also changed our name to the Office of Community & Civic Life to better reflect that there are many ways neighborhoods and communities organize.
However, throughout all these changes, our bureau remains committed to providing support the work of Portland’s 95 volunteer-led neighborhood associations. We believe that a neighborhood association is one way that neighbors can organize and address important issues within their neighborhood. Neighborhood associations also play a role in creating a sense of community and belonging.
Sign Up to Receive Updates
We encourage you to sign-up for the Civic Life bi-monthly newsletter for funding opportunities and updates about free resources and services offered by the City of Portland. Our newsletter promotes opportunities for civic engagement, volunteerism, paid-public-insight and public input opportunities for City-led projects.
Neighborhood Association Contact Lists
If you are a city employee and need to pull a comprehensive list of neighborhood association contacts, please visit this page.
For members of the public, each neighborhood association page lists contact information for current board members. If you need a list that includes contacts for several different neighborhood associations, please email your request to: CivicNotification@portlandoregon.gov
Resources for Neighborhood Associations
ONI Standards: Rules governing Portland’s Neighborhood and Business Association system
Code 3.96: The framework by which the people of the City of Portland may effectively participate in civic affairs and work to improve the livability and character of their Neighborhoods and the City. This Chapter sets out the basis for City recognition of Neighborhood Associations, District Coalitions, and the responsibilities and benefits accruing thereto.