City Charter Review

Every 10 years, the residents of Portland are invited to become involved in the City Charter Review. The current Portland City Charter Commission was created last year and has been working on a clear timeline for submitting recommendations for the public to consider (as soon as November 2022). Click here to meet the 20 commissioners

The City Club of Portland has published two reports surveying our current commissioner style government and election process. Their clear conclusions: Our form of government is inequitable and in need of significant reform.

 So what now? 

The Portland Charter Review Commission wants your perspective on the following:  

  • Portland’s form of government 
  • City Council elections 
  • Other topics you want them to consider

As of September 2021, the Charter Review Commission reports to have received 322 public comments, of the total comments 68% mention form of government, 45% mention city council elections and alternative voting methods, 8% mention houselessness, 8% mention safety, 7% mention police, and 7% include resources for Commissioners to consider.

This is an opportunity to change the basics of how local government operates, so that’s not nearly enough comments! 

If you’d like to submit a comment, but you’re not sure what you’d like to say or how to sign up, keep reading! 

How to sign up to comment 

The current Charter Review Commission has decided to focus first on Portland’s form of government and city council elections. They’re calling this Phase I of the review process. Other topics, such as redefining the role of the Portland Police Bureau or codifying new climate policies, may be covered during Phase II. 

If you have thoughts on either the city’s form of government or city council elections, you can either submit comments in writing or sign up to speak at an upcoming meeting. 

Sign up for verbal public comment for the October 28, 2021 meeting now full and closed!

The next meeting with public comment is on November 16, 2021 from 6 – 8pm, You can sign up to give public comment at our November 16th meeting starting on October 29th. The last scheduled public comment opportunity will be at the Monday, December 13 , 2021 meeting.

The signup form to speak is linked to at 

https://www.portland.gov/omf/charter-review-commission/chartertestify.

The form asks for your name, email address, phone number, how you’ll join the meeting, accessibility requests, and the topic you wish to speak about. It also asks if you’re speaking on behalf of an organization. Don’t worry if you aren’t part of an organization, though — it’s not required in order to speak. 

At any time the public is encouraged to use this online public comment form or send an email to CharterReview@portlandoregon.gov. 

Keep paying attention on the charter review process 

Click here to sign up for updates from the Portland City Charter Commission. 

There are few opportunities for residents of Portland to speak about our needs to people who have power to make change. Don’t let this opportunity pass by!

Additional Resources 

● The Charter Review Commission 

https://www.portland.gov/omf/charter-review-commission — The City of

Portland’s page for the charter review commission, including links to videos of past meetings 

● The Charter Review Commission’s Phase I 

https://www.portland.gov/omf/charter-review-commission/subcommittees-f orm-government-city-council-elections — The Charter Review Commission’s explanation of the phases of the review process 

● The City that Works 

https://lwvpdx.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/City-Gov-Report-LWV-Portl and-9-2019-Final.pdf — The League of Women Voters’ report on the city’s form of government, including a history of prior changes to Portland’s municipal government 

● New Government for Today’s Portland 

https://www.pdxcityclub.org/new-government/ — The Portland City Club’s report on the city’s form of government 

● City commission government 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/City_commission_government — An article describing how city commission governments work 

● Portland’s Form of Government Needs a Makeover 

https://www.portlandmercury.com/blogtown/2019/02/11/25840232/hall-m onitor-out-with-the-old — An article on Portland’s commission government and its problems 

● Frustrated by Portland Bureaucracy? Keep an Eye on the Charter Commission 

https://www.portlandmercury.com/blogtown/2021/07/15/35096945/hall-m onitor-frustrated-by-portland-bureaucracy-keep-an-eye-on-the-charter-co mmission?cb=6424b09b832764d381f940cc9189271c — An article on bureaucratic issues the charter review commission is likely to cover 

● Everything You Wanted to Know About Portland Charter Review But Were Afraid to Ask 

https://www.sightline.org/2021/09/01/everything-you-wanted-to-know-abo ut-portland-charter-review-but-were-afraid-to-ask/ — An article covering the charter review process, including its history

● City finds Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler did not violate campaign finance limits 

https://www.opb.org/article/2020/11/04/city-finds-portland-mayor-ted-whe eler-did-not-violate-campaign-finance-limits/ — An article covering Ted Wheeler’s campaign violations and their outcome 

● Mayor’s proposed budget violates Charter, Auditor’s independence https://www.portlandoregon.gov/auditor/article/760627 — A memo from the office of the city auditor on violations of the city charter 

● The City Auditor and City Council are at a Standoff on the City Hearings Office 

https://www.wweek.com/news/2020/05/08/the-city-auditor-and-city-council -are-at-standoff-on-the-city-hearings-office/ — An article describing the disagreement over the independence of the city auditor from the city council 

● The Portland City Charter https://www.portlandoregon.gov/citycode/28149 — The full city charter 

● ORS 221.315 Enforcement of charter provisions and ordinances https://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/221.315 — The Oregon law which empowers cities to create charters 

● Portland’s City Charter in 1910 

https://www.google.com/books/edition/Charter_and_General_Ordinances_of _the_Ci/908-AAAAYAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=portland%20oregon%20city%2 0charter&pg=PA3&printsec=frontcover 

Compiled by Thursday Bram. Please contact @ThursdayB on Twitter with comments, questions, and concerns. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. If you’re interested in using this information to create a more visually oriented explainer, please contact Thursday!