By David Krogh
Mayor’s Bureau Assignments
Mayor Wheeler has been shuffling bureau assignments for City Commissioners as he becomes aware of bureau problems.
Since Portland is the last large city in the nation to have a commission form of government, this shuffling will likely continue until a more efficient system of governance is ultimately put in place.
New bureau and office assignments, along with email contacts for the respective City Commission members are as follows;
• Mayor Ted Wheeler (email@example.com) Bureaus: Police, Housing, Planning and Sustainability, Development Services Offices: Management and Finance, Government Relations, City Attorney, Budget and Development Commission
• Commissioner Chloe Eudaly (Chloe@portlandoregon.gov) Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) Office of Civic and Community Life (formerly known as the Office of Neighborhood Involvement)
• Commissioner Nick Fish (Nick@portlandoregon.gov) Bureaus: Parks and Recreation, Environmental Services
• Commissioner Amanda Fritz (firstname.lastname@example.org) Water Bureau Office of Equity and Human Rights Open and Accountable Elections Program
• Commissioner Dan Saltzman (email@example.com) Bureaus: Emergency Communications, Emergency Management, Fire (Since Commissioner Saltzman is not up for re-election, his bureaus will be reassigned after November).
• The City Ombudsman operates out of the City Auditor’s Office and is not under any of the City Commissioners. For information on the Ombudsman, see portlandoregon.gov/ombudsman.
Court Rules on Sleeping in Public Spaces
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has decided that local police cannot prosecute people for sleeping in public spaces (such as streets, sidewalks, parks, etc.) if they have nowhere else to go.
This is from a case in Boise, Idaho, where six homeless people sued the city for banning sleeping in public spaces. In Boise, there are an estimated 4500 homeless people and only 700 shelter beds available.
The ruling is expected to put considerable pressure on cities like Portland and Seattle where the homeless are growing in numbers, housing is increasingly unaffordable, and available shelter space is inadequate.
Mayor Wheeler’s response, as reported by several news outlets, was that “homelessness is not a crime.” The City has a citation process in place to deal with public camping and the Mayor has indicated he wants to increase the focus on keeping public spaces clean due to the litter, hazardous materials, needles and other garbage left from said camping.
E-Scooters in Portland
E-scooters are appearing in Portland and many other cities within the nation. PBOT is allowing them in Portland under a pilot program which started in July and is supposed to run through November 20. This program is discussed in detail at: portlandoregon.gov/transportation/77294.
A recent expose’ on the PBS Newshour showed E-scooters zipping along streets in Santa Monica, mainly using bike lanes, with very few riders wearing helmets or other protection.
The gist of the story is the concern about the safety of riders and the lack of standards and enforcement to maintain safe operations of the scooters. As of this writing, there are reportedly four different companies currently fielding between 2000 and 2300 E-scooters within Portland.
Media information about the program has been contradictory. Some stories have stated scooters could not be ridden in the streets, yet the PBOT program webpage says E-scooters can be ridden in bike lanes and vehicle travel lanes, but not on sidewalks or in parks, and, the riders must wear helmets.
Unlike bike rental programs, there are no designated “scooter corrals” which means scooters, when not in use, are just parked on the sidewalk. Pedestrians and ADA agencies are already taking note as many have reported clusters of scooters blocking sidewalks.
There is considerable liability at stake if safety issues and enforcement are not adequately addressed by the City and the scooter providers. Since Commissioner Chloe Eudaly is now in charge of PBOT, the public can inform her of concerns regarding E-scooters while the pilot program is still in effect.
As of this writing, E-scooter promoters are giving away 500 free helmets in a safety effort. This promotion is temporary.
Trimet Changes its Fare System
Trimet has recently changed its fare system to the confusion of many. Paper tickets, although still temporarily in use, will gradually be phased out via a digital ticketing system called hop.
The hop system is described at Trimet’s website via myhopcard.com/home. In a nutshell, you will need to be at least slightly tech savvy to deal with Trimet ticketing from now on.
The hop system allows you to obtain a card (either from Trimet or from gift card displays at stores) and load dollar amounts onto the card for use as ticketing money. The system allows smart phone users to do the same via a Trimet hop app which takes the place of the hop card.
Trimet’s website indicates the hop app only works with android systems at this time. The system will permit payments via the mobile wallet within your smartphone, but cash can still be used to purchase a ride, although this would only be for one ride and no transfers. (Fare information is available trimet.org/hop/fares). This system works for all Trimet ride types (bus, streetcar and MAX) and also for C-tran.
For additional information contact Trimet at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 503.238. 7433.
Don’t Scrimp on Water in Emergencies
Last month was National Preparedness Month but in reality, says Jan Molinaro, each month requires seasonal specific preparations. Plus, in our region at all times, earthquake awareness and prep is a must. Molinaro is the Sunnyside Prepared co-chair and team leader.
“The kind of big disaster that will happen in the Pacific Northwest will, most likely, require all of us to shelter in place. So get your water, food and emergency shelter taken care of.”
That includes sufficient supplies of food, first aid, tools, clothing, and sanitary supplies.
Water takes up a lot more space than most realize. For an average size family of 2.4 members, water storage for the recommended 14 days requires four strong shelves, 30 inches long and, due to leakage, preferably made of commercial kitchen-style wire.
According to Molinaro and husband Michael, basic storage requirements are being ignored by developers, builders and the Portland departments responsible for safety and welfare.
“Just like the city requires new buildings to have bicycle storage, the space for emergency supplies should be incorporated into the building codes.”
Apartment dwellers, comprising some 50% of Portlanders, are at particular peril, according to the Molinaros.
“If people choose not to adequately prepare themselves for disaster, then it is at their own peril, but it should not be as a result of the lack of adequate storage space.