Portland’s Central City Recovery Plan includes immediate impact actions like community safety interventions, generating more events and public activations, and encouraging returning workers. It also includes longer-term strategies to transform and reinvent the Central City into a place that has more housing within walkable and sustainable neighborhoods that are rich with arts, culture, and entertainment.
Many of the activities summarized below have been ongoing and continue today. The purpose of this plan is to share information about what the City government has done and will do, and to invite engagement in what we can do together to recover our Central City, a critically important place in our community.
For our goal to be reached, we must humanely and effectively address the homelessness, behavioral health, and substance use disorder crises that plague our streets. The City is making historic budgetary investments and implementing each of the five resolutions to connect homeless people to services while accelerating the production of affordable housing and other continuum of care resources. For us to improve community safety throughout our city, we must continue the re-staffing of the Portland Police Bureau while we drive foot traffic and activation of public spaces in our urban center.
Short-Term/Urgent Impact Activities and Progress
Ongoing - one-year results
- Mayor Wheeler committed to hiring 300 new Police Bureau personnel over three years: 200 sworn officers and 100 public safety specialists. Since January 2022, PPB has hired over 250 new staff, including nearly 150 sworn officers, 26 PS3s, and dozens of professional staff, including background investigators, records staff, and analysts. We look forward to continuing this strong recruiting and hiring trend.
- While our new hires work to complete their training, PPB's downtown Bike Squad has welcomed additional support from Oregon State Police troopers on PPB's enhanced patrols. In 2023, Central Precinct's Bike Squad has made over 300 arrests, issued over 700 Measure 110 citations, and seized over 200,000 fentanyl pills.
- Portland Police are continuing increased central city patrols with specialized details like the Entertainment District detail, .
- In partnership with other law enforcement agencies, PPB is leading targeted task forces and retail theft missions, and other targeted efforts to address problematic locations.
- PPB continues to increase the visibility of patrols and citation issuance for drug-related offenses
- In late 2023, PPB stepped-up walking patrols in downtown Portland, with eight officers initially dedicated to the program.
- In Fall 2023, the City of Portland co-led the formation of and contributed to a new $1M public-private partnership that created a hotel security district, adding eight new private security patrols, with further 24/7 coverage in key areas of downtown.
- City Council approved a $6.4M contract for GardaWorld to provide enhanced security services for SmartPark parking garages. This security service will coordinate with Downtown Clean & Safe’s security contract.
- Portland City Council unanimously passed a Resolution and an Ordinance to affirm their commitment to partner and collaborate with state leaders on the drug crisis. You can read about the Ordinance and Resolution here.
- Additionally, City Council approved an emergency ordinance to include consumption of a controlled substance to the City ordinance which already prohibits public consumption of alcohol. The prohibition on public consumption of controlled substances will go into effect immediately upon authorization by the Oregon Legislature or court action.
Mayor Wheeler declared a state of emergency to address the fentanyl crisis on January 30, 2024 alongside Governor Tina Kotek and Chair Jessica Vega Pederson. Each declared a 90-day state of emergency to address the public health and public safety crisis driven by fentanyl in Portland’s Central City.
- The goal of the City’s homelessness response is to connect people living on the streets to needed services and sheltering while accelerating the production of affordable housing. This work has included over 3,000 camp removals in the last year where individuals are simultaneously offered shelter and supportive services.
- The City opened the first Temporary Alternative Shelter Site (TASS) in July, with approximately 180 guests living in pods currently and over 100 individuals placed into housing as of early February 2024.
- In October, the Mayor announced the second TASS location on North Portland Road. Plans are being developed for additional TASS sites across the city.
- Between TASS and the Safe Rest Village program, the City is now operating service intensive shelter for over 500 individuals, with plans to provide additional shelter spots.
- Since the Mayor’s creation of the Public Environment Management Office (PEMO) over 300,000 square feet of graffiti has been cleaned, much of this work focused in the Central City.
Events and Public Activations:
- Through the City’s new Events Office, the City is providing grant subsidies, permitting navigation support, and private sector collaboration with leading organizations like Travel Portland and Sport Oregon to attract and grow events in our urban core. In 2023, the Events Office invested more than $260,000 into events aimed at bringing people into the Central City.
- Examples of events supported by the office include:
Programming Central City Parks and Public Spaces to Generate Positive Foot Traffic and Activation:
- Building collaboration between Downtown Clean and Safe and Portland Park Rangers to ensure that safety and cleanliness can be maintained in parks. More food trucks are to be permitted to operate in the Central City, supplementing City support to food cart pods.
Expanding Public Plazas and Healthy Business Permits:
- The Portland Bureau of Transportation will continue to identify and develop pedestrian friendly plazas to create community meeting places that support local businesses.
- Healthy business permits have been made permanent on an affordable and accessible basis so that restaurants may continue to operate in certain parking spots and rights of way.
- PEMO has continued to partner with public and private stakeholders to activate new spaces and deliver livability-related solutions across the Central City.
Lighting and Right-of-way Improvements:
- Continue to invest in additional lighting to support public safety and clean, welcoming spaces. These initiatives include Project Illumination in the Central City, the extended Winter Lighting Festival, as well as the installation of permanent fixtures throughout the Central City.
- In all, the work of the Public Environment Management Office has resulted in the lighting of 75 blocks, about 1,000 trees, and 6 downtown parks.
- As of May 11th, nearly all City workers who had been hybrid will be required to work for at least 20 hours per week in-person. The City continues to encourage all other employers to bring workers back to offices. City Council funded the “Every Wednesday Campaign” which uses local media to promote return to work, by sharing information about dining, arts, and cultural activities that make the Central City an attractive destination.
- Mayor Wheeler has called on employers to bring their employees back into the office at least half-time by January 1st of 2024.
Enhanced Service District Collaboration:
- Coordinating City-led safety and cleanliness efforts with the services delivered by Downtown Clean & Safe, Central Eastside Together, and GoLloyd’s enhanced service districts. These districts are key partners in City-led efforts to maintain cleanliness and livability throughout these areas of the Central City. These districts are key partners in executing 90-day Reset Plans in Old Town and the Central Eastside Industrial District in order to address safety and livability issues and empower local businesses and residents.
Problem Solvers and Expediting Committees:
- The Mayor’s Office and the Public Environment Management Office continue to convene problem solver meetings to listen to residents, businesses, and community organizations while collaborating on responsive solutions.
Direct Business Assistance Via Repair Grants and Stabilization Grants:
- Prosper Portland will continue to disburse direct grants to small businesses that experience property damage or need security infrastructure to prevent theft or break-ins. Prosper Portland has disbursed over $1.8M in repair grants to over 500 small businesses since 2020. The Mayor's Office, together with ESDs and City bureaus, has an open door to all businesses in need of varying types of direct support. We continue to work individually and closely to deliver solutions to employers and employees in need.
Medium and Longer-Term Impact Activities and Progress
1-3 year results
Housing Regulations Including Inclusionary Zoning:
- The City completed an analysis of regulatory burdens that may inhibit housing production, including in the Central City. The City also completed a calibration study of the current inclusionary housing policy in order to pursue reforms that better target this policy. The findings prompted the development of code changes to reduce costs and timelines for housing construction.
Office Conversion Incentives:
- The City has passed a package of incentivizes to encourage office conversions to residential uses in the central city, and is actively advocating for additional support from county, state, and federal partners. The City is seeking other adaptive reuses of vacant office spaces such as childcare services, art exhibits, and more.
Central City TIF District:
- The City is evaluating, with a steering committee actively meeting, the opportunity to create a new tax increment financing (TIF) district in the Central City in order to dedicate a revenue source to support affordable housing, public right-of-way improvements, retail re-tenanting efforts, and to spark redevelopment projects and mixed used vibrancy.
- Portland City Council passed a resolution in 2023 to help begin the establishment the Central City TIF District.
Incentivizing Commercial Lease Renewals:
- Portland City Council unanimously passed a business tax incentive to encourage businesses to lease office and retail space. The first of its kind program has already received 20 applications and additional enhancements are under consideration based on performance data.
Enhanced Service District Coverage:
- The City is assessing the viability of extending the security and cleaning services that ESDs deliver into adjacent neighborhoods within the central city.
Attracting Quality Jobs:
- Portland City Council unanimously passed three resolutions that will expand the Enterprise Zone program, which is locally and nationally recognized as an innovative tax incentive tool to help businesses grow in an inclusive way.
Addressing Impact of Taxation & Fees:
- Mayor Wheeler has formed a taskforce to address the collective impact of taxes, rates, and fees in the Portland region.
Central City Task Force
- Mayor Wheeler is supportive of the recommendations made by the Portland Central City Task Force in December 2023, including the key recommendation to bring down 2020-era fences and plywood before the 2024 Rose Festival.