News Blog: Changes to Portland in the Streets program to help Portlanders create and activate unique neighborhood spaces

News Article
Council-approved amendments to City code and Administrative Rules make way for new programming this spring and summer.
In this article

Image removed.

The 2017 Emerson Street block party, a Portland in the Streets permitted event, featured many local performers participating in games and activities throughout the day. Photo by Nico Lim, Portland Bureau of Transportation

(March 7, 2018) “PBOT prioritizes people by encouraging the use of the right-of-way for community gathering spaces, placemaking and programming.” This policy statement is the essence of PBOT’s Livable Streets Strategy, which was adopted by Portland City Council in October 2017. Since the Livable Streets Strategy’s adoption, the bureau has been working to develop the programs that will put this policy into practice. We call the program Portland in the Streets.

What programs are part of Portland in the Streets? Here’s a quick list:

  • Block Parties - Small scale parties held on residential streets, such as neighborhood potlucks and barbecues that are held by, and for, residents along the street.
  • Community Events - Larger scale events that occur in the public right of way intended to build a sense of community. These events bring people from the entire neighborhood or region and events support and encourage community gatherings and local businesses.
  • Street Paintings - Large format works of art, designed and painted on local streets that build community, empower neighbors to shape their own public realm, create an artistic expression that’s about the people who live nearby, and break down social isolation.
  • Pedestrian Plazas - Long term community placemaking projects within the right-of-way to create open space on underutilized streets, alleys, or other roadways for the public to use and activate.
  • Street Prototyping - Community Initiated projects that test a new street or intersection design concept, and collect data to inform future design decisions.
  • Spaces to Places – These projects turn gravel, dirt and underdeveloped low volume streets or alleyways into places where people want to gather and install amenities desirable to the community.

The sun is out and the weather is warming up. Soon, thousands of people will be using Portland’s streets for all these great programs. So it’s great timing that today, City Council approved changes to City code and Administrative rules that will allow us to ensure the City has consistent rules and processes in place to effectively design, implement, manage, and maintain placemaking and community use activities in the public right of way. These changes will help PBOT create a citywide program that helps community groups create and activate their own spaces that are unique to their own neighborhoods.

Among the changes: 

  • City Code Chapter 17.24 – Permits - Creates a new Portland in the Streets administrative rule to establish a consistent framework for all programs
  • City Code Chapter 17.25 – Sidewalk Cafes - Creates new permit and fee type for Sidewalk Cafés to extend their operations during a Community Event street closure
  • TRN 3.450 – Block Party permit fees going from $10 to zero - Eliminates the fees for the Block Party Program
  • TRN 3.450 – Park(ing) Day permit fee going from $25 to zero - Eliminates the fees for the Park(ing) Day Program

Stay tuned to the Portland in the Streets website ( for more information as we put these changes into practice this spring. We look forward to seeing more of the great creativity, experimentation, innovation and positive energy of Portlanders being applied to our public spaces.