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Portland’s Central City Recovery Plan

Portland's Central City Recovery Plan
The primary goals of the Central City Recovery Plan are to ensure the cultural center and economic engine of our city and state can be a safe and welcoming place for all people to live, work, and visit.

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

Community Safety:

  • Mayor Wheeler committed to hiring 300 new Police Bureau personnel over three years: 200 sworn officers and 100 public safety specialists. Between January 2022 and April 2023, PPB has hired over 200 new staff, including over 100 sworn officers, 26 PS3s, and dozens of professional staff, including background investigators, records staff, and analysts. PPB has also received over 1,800 police officer applications in that same time period. We look forward to continuing this strong recruiting and hiring trend. 
  • Portland Police are also continuing increased central city patrols with specialized details like the Entertainment District detailwhich brought the Entertainment District from the highest incidence of gun violence in Portland to only one shooting incident in the last 9 months. Additionally, 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 as well as bringing back the Traffic Enforcement Unit for additional presence throughout the city.
  • The City of Portland has co-led the formation of and agreed to contribute to a new $1M public-private partnership that creates a hotel security district, deploying five new 24/7 foot patrol guards for the next year in downtown Portland.  City Council also just approved a $6.4M contract for GardaWorld to provide enhanced security services for SmartPark parking garages.  This security service will be able to be coordinated 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.
  • PPB has conducted multiple drug missions, made dozens of arrests, and confiscated over 150,000 fentanyl pills this year.

Homeless Services: 

  • 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 in July, with over 100 guests living in pods currently. Plans are being developed for additional TASS sites across the city. 
  • The City updated its camping code and will no longer allow camping between the hours of 8am and 8pm anywhere in the city of Portland. This will be phased in as individuals are connected to the TASS, Safe Rest Villages, and other service opportunities. 

Graffiti Abatement: 

Hosting 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. Despite staffing challenges, PPB will support street closures for existing and new events.   

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 central city parks. More food trucks are to be permitted to operate in the Central City, supplementing City support to food cart pods through programs such as the Kuto app

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 will be made permanent on an affordable and accessible basis so that restaurants may continue to operate in certain parking spots and rights of way.   

Lighting and Right-of-way Improvements: 

  • Continue to invest in additional lighting to support public safety and clean, welcoming spaces.  These initiatives include the extended Winter Lighting Festival as well as the installation of permanent fixtures throughout the Central City.   

Returning Workers: 

  • 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. These resets will continue in targeted areas within the Central City and citywide.   

Problem Solvers and Expediting Committees: 

  • The Mayor’s office and the Public Environment Management Office continue to convene problem solver meetings and expediting groups 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: 

Central City TIF District: 

  • The City will evaluate 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. 

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.