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2021 Year in Review: Mayor's Bureaus

News Article

The Mayor and Commissioners serve as administrators of City departments, individually overseeing bureaus and carrying out policies approved by the Council. Bureau and liaison assignments are determined by the Mayor. Bureau directors are responsible for managing operations within their departments. 

Mayor Wheeler oversees the City Attorney's Office, the City Budget Office, the Bureau of Emergency Management, the Office of Equity and Human Rights, the Office of Government Relations, the Office of Management and Finance, the Portland Police Bureau, Prosper Portland, and the Office of Violence Prevention.

Below are highlights of their work throughout the year.

Office of the City Attorney

"I want to thank all of the legal professionals in the City Attorney’s Office for their hard work over the past year to help advance the City’s policy goals, promote the City’s values, and support each and every bureau in the City," said City Attorney Robert Taylor.

City Budget Office

  • In January of 2021, just a few weeks after two new Council members were sworn in, the City Budget Office supported a Council conversation to establish shared all-Council priorities in the wake of crisis. As a result of this conversation, the Council committed to collectively addressing community safety, houselessness, and economic recovery in their budget and policy actions over the next 12-18 months. 

  • Over the course of the 11 months since this commitment, the Budget Office has supported nine Council work sessions and the passage of five distinct budget ordinances (for your reference, these are the Spring BMP, the Violence Prevention Ordinance, the Adopted Budget, the ARPA allocation ordinance, and the Fall BMP), allocating unprecedented new resources towards these key priority areas. 

  • While transitioning to all-remote work, the Budget Office has worked hard to retain connections amongst Council and between community members and the Council: this year the budget office facilitated 9 all-Council listening sessions and public hearings on the budget (Spring BMP hearing, 3 spring listening sessions, Mayor’s proposed budget hearing, approved budget hearing, TSCC hearing, adopted budget hearing, Fall BMP ordinance hearing), which allowed for several dozen hours of public deliberation on budget decision points, and connected the voices of several hundred Portlanders with their elected officials. 

  • Intentional recruitment for increased diversity of lived experience, expertise, and areas of interest in Portland Utility Board membership combined with ongoing shifts in operations to a more inclusive and egalitarian approach has resulted in the Board taking on a broader range of issues and asking deeper questions. The Board’s impacts and accomplishments reflect the Board’s successful focus on process, equity, and inclusion, and include: 

  • In response to PUB feedback, Utility bureau leadership adjusted the timeline, engaged more directly with community leaders, and worked w 

  • PUB helped the Water Bureau increase transparency around proposed Title 21 changes. ith PUB to form a community-driven selection committee for their Small Business Program for Utility Relief. 

  • Through the challenges of the pandemic, the Board has and continues to encourage the Utility bureaus to develop policies and practices that address the needs of those most impacted by structural inequities, e.g., evaluation of the effectiveness and value of shutting off water service. 

Bureau of Emergency Management 

  • PBEM staff in the ECC partnered with Portland Fire & Rescue to administer almost 13,000 COVID-19 vaccination shots, primarily in communities with limited access to healthcare.  

  • PBEM staff in the ECC also partnered with more than 100 community-based organizations to provide food, gift cards, COVID-19 safety gear and household necessities.  All our CBOs focused on to Black, Indigenous, or other communities of color or primarily served people with disabilities.  

  • PBEM partnered with the Joint Office of Homeless Services and Multnomah County Dept. of Human Services to develop a rapid-response plan for severe winter weather emergencies, centered around a commitment that no one who needs a warm, dry place will be turned away. 

  • PBEM partnered with OMF-Facilities to open the renovated Portland Building as a severe weather shelter for the first time.  We partnered with Portland Parks and recreation to open three community centers as cooling centers as well.  And we partnered with the Water Bureau to create the first-ever severe-weather misting-cooling stations in Portland Parks. 

  • PBEM partnered with Verde to convene our first 100% Spanish-speaking NET course. 24 trainees full NET certified – our first all-Spanish team!  

NET volunteers also: 
  • Worked with Meals on Wheels to connect their clients to vaccine opportunities, and arrange rides to vaccination sites. 

  • Managed on-site traffic in support of Multnomah County’s weekly COVID-19 test/flu shot clinic at PCC Cascades, which is promoted primarily to traditionally underserved and BIPOC communities. 221 shifts, 552 volunteer hours. 

  • Worked with Portland Street Response all winter to distribute blankets to the homeless, form perimeters around down power lines, fill shifts at homeless shelters, clear snow from critical public walkways, and help extricate cars from deep piled snow for persons with mobility impairments. 

  • In the summer heatwaves, 174 NET volunteers took 284 shifts and put in around 1,575 volunteer hours at cooling shelters. 

Office of Equity and Human Rights

6 new staff members joined the Office, greatly increasing our capacity to meet the growing demands of the City-wide commitment to assure that the policies, practices, and programing in the City is consistent with the values of Anti-racism and Equity.  Some highlights include: 

Disability/Title2 ADA

With the addition of the disability digital access coordinator, the disability team has increased the service to bureaus for consultation on digital access.  

The team has: 

  • Provided presentations on topics including: making more accessible PDFs; captioning; manually testing content for accessibility with a screen reader; aspects of making Word, PowerPoint, and webpages more accessible; and more 

  • Conducted a citywide survey on ADA title II and employees understanding of their Civil Rights obligations. 

  • Participated in a regional wildfire Committee as well as the cities Hazard Mitigation plan and BEOP 

  • Poised to launch centralized intake of ADA Title II requests and Complaints through 311 in the next months. 

  • In partnership with the Water Bureau, there will soon be citywide price agreements with vendors to assist bureaus in remediating Word, PowerPoint, PDFs, and webpages to make them more accessible. 

  • Working on multiple policy issues with a variety of bureaus.  

Results Based Accountability using an Anti-racist approach

The Office of Equity and Human Rights has rigorously supported the capacity of Portland’s ecosystem of anchor institutions and bureaus to end systemic racism in the City and region, designing cross-sector cohorts ground in foundational learning, RBA introductory concepts, and performance accountability. 

  • Updated guidance for Racial Equity Plan development 

  • 10-session Results-based Accountability training cohort specifically tailored to introduce accountability into the updated Racial Equity Plans mandated by City resolution (duration of cohort from October 2021-July 2022) 

  • 17 participating bureaus 

  • 68 total participants 

  • Training will guide bureaus with currently expired Racial Equity Plans towards the creation of draft Racial Equity Plans using the RBA approach by Fall 2022 

  • RBA 101 Cohorts 

  • Engaged with 71 participants from 10 bureaus for the Fall series of the Results-Based Accountability 101 cohort. 

  • Engaged with approximately 80 participants for the Spring series of the Results-Based Accountability 101 cohort. 

  • Embedding equity into the American Rescue Plan reporting 

  • Walked 28 project teams through the application the COVID-19 Response Equity Toolkit 

  • Established seven equity outcomes intended by the 28 projects funded through phase 1 of ARP 

  • Working with project teams to identify indicators that will help measure progress towards equity outcomes 

Title VI 

Hired two new positions, Civil Rights Title VI analyst and Equity and Diversity Data Analyst.  

  • Partnering with other bureaus to develop infrastructure for data sharing and reporting/accountability/performance management tied to equity, civil rights, Title VI and Racial Equity Plans, and federal reporting requirements 

  • Developed guidance for Race, Ethnicity, Language, Disability, and American Indian/Alaska Native Tribal Affiliation public data collection standards (including minimum and comprehensive standards) to be released soon. 

  • Continued partnership with BPS, PBOT, and other bureau partners on equitable communities/anti-displacement analytical tools to guide/support citywide decision-making for equitable growth and development. 

Training Program 
  • The training and education team trained 917 City of Portland employees on the essential understandings of equity and anti-racism work. 

  • Developed “Creating an Inclusive Workplace Culture-addressing microaggressions and acts of Othering” for HR Manager Leadership Training. 

Language Access 
  • Worked to establish and develop the City’s first Citywide Language Access Program: providing citywide advisement, creating processes, and providing training on language equity standards and Civil Rights Title VI compliance. 

  • Served as co-lead for the language pay differential policy implementation planning process which included creating new citywide processes, training staff, and leading implementation meetings. 

  • Served as Equity Officer and Language Access lead for the City’s COVID-19 emergency response (2020- June 2021) including in 2021, providing advisement on the city-run vaccination clinics serving the public and creating protocols in order to provide language assistance for community members attending the clinics. 

  • Served as advisor to PBEM and regional partners on language access in emergency and disaster messaging 

Targeted Policy partnerships

Smart City PDX – building on the Council adopted Privacy principals the team is working closely with community to develop a Surveillance Policy to provide guidance and transparency to the City’s use of personally identifiable information gathered by City owned or contracted technology.  

Procurement – Partnering on the review and redesign of the social equity programs in contracting and goods and services procurement. 

LGBTQA+ Policy Analyst 

The office filled this position and now provides policy and practice advisement to bureaus.   

​Data Team Updates​​ 
  • Assisting with bureau website migration 
  • Created Monthly Equity Data and Diversity meetings to curate inter bureau forum for sharing Equity Data content and connecting practitioners. 
  • Manage monthly Tableau User group Meetings to convene forum for inter bureau collaboration related to Tableau. 
  • Created and curated the Equity Data Atlas. An interim Interbureau data catalog of ongoing projects related to Equity and diversity throughout the city of Portland. 
  • Assisting  the Water bureau with ARPA - related project geospatial analysis. 
  • Assisting the Office of Civic Life with data management & visualization related to Community Advisory Bodies. 

Office of Government Relations 

The Office of Government Relations had many successes in 2021 in a 100% virtual setting. Our Office increased its capacity by 4 FTE in the last year, two new additions to the Tribal Relations Program, and two positions in the federal relations program through the American Rescue Plan Act. With the additional capacity in the Tribal Relations Program we have increased our outreach to tribal communities and Tribal governments on a consistent basis as well as worked with bureaus to identify work plans for tribal engagement and improvements. This year our Tribal summit employee training hosted over 400 city and other local jurisdiction employees to promote awareness and understanding of working with Tribal communities and governments. 

On the Federal side with a new administration there were four main areas of advocacy, The American Rescue Plan, Appropriations, Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the Build Back Better Act.  we ushered in over 230M from the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act including 206M in Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds and 25M in Emergency Rental Assistance. The advocacy of specific items in the recently passed Infrastructure Investment and Jobs (IIJA) Act included EV Infrastructure and Reconnecting Communities Pilot Program, Healthy Streets Program, and Broadband equity funding. We continue to advocate for the Build Back Better Act on the Senate side and within the House-passed bill we successfully advocated for $150 billion in affordable housing investment, including expansion of LIHTC and $2.5 billion for Community-Based Violence Intervention Initiatives.  Within the FY 2022 Appropriations Community Directed Spending we facilitated a priority ranking project city-wide and have the potential of $2.65 million for Behavioral Health Resource Center and $732K for Tryon Creek Culvert Replacement dependent on Congress approval of Community Directed Spending. 

On the State side there were 2519 bills introduced, of which we tracked 68% (1709) and provided testimony on 75 public hearings.  We brought in historical amounts of resources to the city through the  jurisdictional transfer of 82nd avenue (HB 5006) that included $80 M for safety improvements. In addition to fiscal resources we saw success in the following bill passages:

  • SB 204 authorizes civilian or community oversight boards to access Oregon's Law Enforcement Data System (LEDS).  

  • SB 398 bans the display of a noose. 

  • SB 621 removes barriers to implement the voter-approved Community Police Oversight Board.  

  • HB 2456 omnibus authorizes background checks for Revenue Division employees and expands flexibility for the Homebuyer Opportunity Limited Tax Exemption program.  

  • HB 2530 removes sunset on fixed photo radar program.  

  • HB 3055 improves traffic safety by expanding local speed setting authority. 

  • No preemptions enacted. 

The Regional Relations Program coordinated regional transportation efforts, created the remote workers taskforce to identify solutions for remote working, and worked to build a cross functional network to position the City to lead on climate and emergency response efforts. 

Within the International Relations program we worked to identify a program framework that expands beyond traditional functions of receiving delegations and are working to expand inter-program collaboration. 

Office of Management and Finance

COVID-19 Response, Human Resources, Technology Services, Revenue and Financial Services, Office of the Chief Administrative Officer 

As the pandemic created challenges locally and globally, the City of Portland adapted to support our workforce. Accomplishments during 2021 include expanding leave options for staff; implementing vaccination requirements and policies for employees, contractors, vendors and volunteers; and preparing to welcome office employees back for some in-person work in 2022. Since the start of the pandemic, the Technology Service team has deployed more than 2,100 laptops and 2,300 smart phones to make sure City staff can continue serving Portlanders. 

American Rescue Plan Investments 

Revenue and Financial Services, Office of the Chief Administrative Officer 

The City of Portland is poised to distribute $208 million in federal economic stimulus funding to meet Portland’s most urgent needs: homelessness response and household stabilization, small business and commercial district stabilization, and community health and safety. The City Council has committed Portland’s initial installment of $104 million, following robust community engagement and a recommendation from an internal coordinating council. Be on the lookout for many programs to launch in 2022, providing direct relief to our community. 

Charter Commission 

Office of the Chief Administrative Officer 

Portlanders have the opportunity to shape the future of their city government, working with a diverse group of community members serving on Portland’s once-a-decade Charter Commission. After getting underway in early 2021, the Charter Commission decided to focus on two key issues: form of government and City Council elections. Community input will inform recommendations that could be forwarded to voters as early as 2022. 

Community Safety Transformation 

Office of the Chief Administrative Officer 

The future of community safety is more important than ever as Portland addresses increasing gun violence, staffing shortages and budget constraints while simultaneously updating oversight and coordination across organizational lines. The city’s new Division of Community Safety is developing a strategic plan to modernize Portland’s safety system and ensure that all Portlanders are safe, with access to help when they need it. With support from City Council, the team is prioritizing four action areas: 

  • Reduce emergency calls through upstream services 

  • Triage emergency calls so the right responder is sent to the incident 

  • Modernize emergency services, with differentiated options for different types of incidents 

  • Align governance and staffing to improve efficiency 

Unified Communications Launch 

Office of the Chief Administrative Officer 

Community members can now access information about public health, economic recovery and government services on official City of Portland social media channels. Facebook and Twitter channels launched in summer 2021 as part of the Unified Communications Pilot: a focused investment in communications “infrastructure” needed to reach Portlanders efficiently and effectively – especially communities who have lacked access to local government. The pilot project is increasing collaboration across city bureaus and improving public transparency. 

Integrated Tax System 

Technology Services, Revenue and Financial Services 

Filing taxes with the City of Portland got a lot easier in 2021, thanks to the launch of Portland Revenue Online and the city’s participation in the Internal Revenue Service e-filing program. Portlanders can now file city tax returns and process payments electronically, along with state and federal returns. The system will also be used to collect recent voter-approved taxes on behalf of Multnomah County and Metro, reducing administrative costs across the region.  

Vanport Building 

Division of Asset Management 

The new Vanport Building opened this fall in downtown Portland, housing the City’s Bureau of Planning and Sustainability and three fellow owner-occupants: Portland State University, Oregon Health & Science University and Portland Community College. Planning, building and opening the new space has been a collaborative effort. The building’s name commemorates the city of Vanport, residents who were lost or displaced by the Vanport flood in 1948 and the Vanport Extension Center, which eventually moved downtown and became Portland State University. 

Charging as a Service for Electric Vehicles 

Division of Asset Management 

From maintaining roads to operating parks, the City of Portland relies on vehicles to serve our community. This year, the Fleet team took important steps to reduce emissions in pursuit of an important city goal: achieving net-zero by 2050. A new contractor will install and manage electric vehicle charging stations that serve up to 360 vehicles over the next five years. And a $2.6 million grant from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality will replace eight medium- and heavy-duty transportation vehicles with electric vehicles and install specialized charging stations that expand the City’s capacity to serve electric vehicles. 

City of Portland Values 

Human Resources  

In 2020, the Portland City Council adopted six core values to guide the city’s work: anti-racism, equity, transparency, communication, collaboration and fiscal responsibility. This year, our Human Resources team integrated those values throughout the workplace – from performance reviews to recruitment policies to Citywide programs, procedures and practices. 

Portland Police Bureau 


The Equity and Inclusion Office revised the Bureau’s five-year Racial Equity Plan and established an Equity Advisory Council. They also created the Equity Training Specialist Position, who will work with both internal and external community members to embed equity into all relevant bureau trainings. In June 2020, Chief Lovell also moved the Equity and Inclusion Office to be a direct report to the Chief of Police. 

Community Engagement and Inclusion Office of Community Engagement

The Bureau formed the new Equity Advisory Council, a Latino Advisory Council and a Chief’s Advisory Council in 2020. These councils join many other community and culturally specfic councils or operational specific advisory councils the Bureau has to help inform and advise on policies, training and other decisions. The Bureau’s advisory councils can be found here. 

Expanding Communications

The Strategic Communications Unit worked on a number of projects to better inform community members about public safety during the pandemic. This included podcasts, brochures, online information, social media posts and news media availabilities with the Chief to address how the pandemic was affecting public safety efforts. The Strategic Communications Unit also began a Spanish Twitter for emergency use as well as published safety information related to demonstrations in four Safe Harbor languages prior to the election 

Prosper Portland

Williams & Russell 
  • In July, the community-led Project Working Group (PWG) of the Williams and Russell Project selected a Black-led development team to advance the community vision for a 1.7-acre vacant block at North Russell Street and North Williams Avenue. The selected development concept includes affordable apartments, affordable homes, plaza and garden, and communal office space. Project Working Group members cited the development team’s deep knowledge base, history of serving Portland’s Black community, alignment with community values, and attention to equity practices and goals as key factors in the selection. 

  • The Williams and Russell project is a collaborative effort between the newly formed community-based Williams & Russell Community Development Corporation, Prosper Portland, Portland Housing Bureau, Legacy Health and Mayor Wheeler’s Office. As part of the overall redevelopment plan, Legacy Health, the current owner of the site, is prepared to grant the property to the Williams and Russell Community Development Corporation, which will accept the property and negotiate with the selected team the specifics of the site development.

Public Plazas & My People’s Market 
  • Prosper Portland’s Painted Portland Project, in partnership with the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT), established several public plazas to bring attention to the array of experiences available in Portland’s Central City. The plazas opened in early June and ran through September, with a focus on four key goals: 1) Showcase the current landscape of Portland as welcoming and safe; 2) Support small business, focusing on BIPOC-owned businesses; 3) Promote access to outdoor recreation to all Portland residents and visitors; 4) Bring people back to the central city and support business. Overall, the plazas hosted more than 40 events led by community partners; Prosper Portland hosted 15 additional events at its plazas in the North Park Blocks and near Tilikum Crossing. The seventh edition of My People’s Market at the North Park Blocks Plaza was the largest hosted event and recorded more than 8,000 people in attendance over three days. 

The Nick Fish 
  • The Nick Fish is a mixed-use, mixed-income catalytic project in the Gateway Regional Center TIF District, adjacent to Gateway Discovery Park. Prosper Portland provided $7.5 million to the $32 million project, which was a collaboration between Prosper Portland, PHB, Human Solutions, and Gerding Edlen. The Nick Fish will provide 75 units of housing: 52 units of affordable housing at or below 60 percent median family income, and 23 units at market rate, which includes five at 80 percent MFI. Prosper Portland will own and manage the ground floor retail as part of the Affordable Commercial Tenanting program. The 11,000 square feet of ground floor commercial will offer as many as nine retail spaces, starting at 729 square feet.  Human Solutions will own and operate the residential units and occupy 11,000 square feet of space on the second floor for its office and service center. 

Office of Violence Prevention

In 2021, Portland experienced a record number of shootings and gun violence we have had in the history of our city. It has been a year filled with challenges and hardships but also hope and accomplishments.  

Despite the challenges, the Office of Violence Prevention (OVP), community members, service providers, and partners have been able to remain resilient in the lanes we occupy to prevent, interrupt, and heal from the violence.  

In October, OVP was able to push out our 2021 – 2022 Gun Violence Reduction Grant for new emerging and small organizations and programs to support their work in addressing gun violence in our community.  

To support people in the tertiary lane, our office hired three (3) interns who have been incarcerated for our in-house Portland Restoration Academy (PRA). This internship is designed to help give our interns an opportunity to learn new job skills, earn paid work experience, receive on-the-job training, and wrap around services. The mission is to provide these individuals a chance to re-enter their communities with hope.  

As the school season was taking off, our office hosted our first annual Back to School Community Event at Cully Park. With school supply/backpack donations from Moms Demand Action and Going Home II, we were able to serve 200 students along with sharing out resources and services to the community from our service provider partners.  

Community engagement, partnerships, and collaboration are essential in addressing the social determinants that lead to gun violence. It is an effort that requires all-hands-on deck, from local government agencies, service providers, community-based organizations, community members, and law enforcement.  

This year we have seen collaboration and coordination cross jurisdictions despite having to navigate life in a pandemic. Our CBO partner, Portland Opportunities Industrialization Center (POIC) has expanded the hospital-based intervention Healing Hurt People (HHP) program into OHSU. HHP is now able to serve and respond to both Trauma I hospitals (Legacy Emanuel and OHSU) in the state of Oregon.  

With our other CBO partner, Latino Network, we hosted our first annual Leaf Day Cleanup in the Rockwood neighborhood. Rockwood is housed at the border of Portland and Gresham and has been known historically for the violence the neighborhood has experienced.  

Aside from our CBO partnerships, we have also collaborated with government agencies such as the Office of Civic Life to help promote crime prevention through environmental design such as cleaning up gang graffiti in North Portland.  

In the prevention and tertiary lane, OVP has collaborated with the arts and culture community, specifically the Soul Box Project and Third Rail Theatre to highlight various forms of prevention and healing for gun violence victims and community members. OVP had the honor to attend the Soul Box Exhibit in Washington, D.C that honored over 2,000 victims of gun violence.  

Addressing gun violence requires a holistic approach that includes everyone to do their part in their respected lanes, no matter how small it is.  

It has been a year filled with hardships, sorrow, but also hope and wins.