Frequently Asked Questions: Independent District Commission

Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently asked questions about Portland, Oregon's Independent District Commission

What is the Independent District Commission (IDC)?

The Independent District Commission (IDC) is an independent community body tasked with preparing and adopting a district plan to divide Portland into four geographic districts for the election of our city councilors.

The IDC is responsible for adopting district map and plans by Sept. 1, 2023, and is required to:

  • Hold a citywide public hearing early in the process to engage Portlanders on district criteria;
  • Hold at least two public hearings in each proposed district before voting to adopt a district; plan; and
  • Ensure district maps are consistent with state and federal laws and criteria

The IDC was created by the voter-approved amendments to the City Charter. It consists of 13 community members, three alternate members and three reserve alternate members. All members were selected and appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by City Council in January 2023. 

What is the IDC’s authority?

The IDC has a unique authority, and requires nine out of the 13 members vote to approve their district plan, then its adopted and final. However, if after two votes, the District Commission can’t reach the nine-vote super-majority, then the most recent version of the plan is referred to Council for its consideration and adoption.

What is the IDC responsible for?

As the Independent District Commission prepares the district plan. They are required to use voter-approved district criteria, and any additional criteria they set forth, as long as it’s consistent with state and federal law.

The IDC is also required hold nine public hearings. One public hearing early in the process before they develop the district plan, to seek public comment on whether any additional plan criteria should be considered. And eight public hearings, two hearings in each of the four proposed districts before voting to adopt the district plan.

What criteria is the IDC using?

The Independent District Commission has the authority to create four geographic districts that meet voter-approved criteria. The districts: 

  • will be contiguous and compact,
  • utilize existing geographic or political boundaries,
  • not divide communities of common interest,
  • be connected by transportation links, and
  • be of equal population.

No district will be drawn for the purpose of favoring any political party, incumbent elected official or other person, or drawn for the purpose of diluting the voting strength of any language or ethnic minority group.

What is the  timeline and when will the draft district plan be available?

The IDC has roughly eight months to complete research, public input, discussions, map development and review, and hold the nine  required public hearings. The District Commission must have its work done by Sept. 1, 2023. Below is high level overview of the Commission's timeline and key milestones:

  • January 2023 – District Commissioners appointed
  • February 2023 — Foundational work and review of district plan criteria
  • March 2023 — Release draft district criteria for community input and hold public hearing
  • April 2023 — Deliberate on input received & vote on draft district plan criteria
  • May 2023 — Deliberate and vote on district plan
  • June 2023 — Release draft district plan for community input and notice public hearings
  • July 2023 — Hold eight public hearings, two in each proposed district
  • August 2023 — Deliberations and vote district plan
  • September 2023 — Terms end for district commissioners

How were Commissioners selected?

282 community members applied to be a part of the Independent District Commission.  Thirteen commissioners, three alternates and three reserve alternates were selected from 282 applicants, who were evaluated on four criteria. The scored list of applicants was then used by the mayor and council  to select the members. The selection criteria included:

  • Skills, knowledge and lived experience that will help the Independent District Commission fulfil its work, such as prior experience with a redistricting process, or expertise in elections, voter education and outreach, community engagement, or local government.
  • A commitment to, and experience with, advancing equity.
  • Demonstrated ability to support the community engagement efforts of the Independent District Commission.
  • A connection to a variety of sectors of the community, such as public, private, non-profit, business, philanthropic, faith-based, racial, or ethnic communities. Because the district plan effects all Portlanders, a commission that is connected to an assortment of Portland communities is necessary.

Why are there alternate commissioners?

The Independent District Commission has a tight timeline. The newly adopted Charter requires that their work be completed by  September 1, 2023. Commissioners have roughly eight months complete research, public input, discussions, map development and review, and hold nine required public hearings. The process requires  having alternates  appointed to quickly step in to fill a vacancy. This ensures that the work of the commission will not be delayed.

Second, the work of  the Independent District Commission affects ALL Portlanders. Having extra voices seated around the table with lived experiences and connections to Portland’s communities is incredibly useful, even if they are non-voting members.

Who is helping the work of the Independent District Commission?

The Independent District Commission is working with FLO Analytics, technical consultants who are providing the District Commission with technical services to facilitate the creation and adoption of the City of Portland’s first district plan.

Flo Analytics is providing  GIS support, mapping software, data processing and analysis, and formatting and design of mapping materials.

The Independent District Commission has two full-time staff dedicated to support the work of the commission, as well as support from the larger charter transition team.