Portland is the largest city, cultural/commercial hub, and major port of the state of Oregon. Its population in 2017 was 647,800 within city limits, 2,425,000 in the Portland metropolitan statistical area (MSA), and 3,160,488 in the combined statistical area (CSA). Portland is located at the north end of the Willamette (pronounced "will-AM-it") Valley, where the Willamette river confluences into the Columbia River that separates Oregon from Washington state. Roughly 60% of Oregon's population resides within the Portland metropolitan area.
See the Oregon section of Politics, Elections, and Legislation for additional information.
The government of the City of Portland consists of an elected City Council which consists of the Mayor, four Commissioners, and an auditor. Each of these officials is elected city-wide for a four-year term. The Commissioners, who are elected city-wide, oversee portfolios, termed bureaus, which can consist of City departments and programs, assigned to them by the Mayor. The Portland City Commission [the City's governing body, also called the City Council] as a whole is responsible for approving and adopting the city budget, levying taxes and making or amending city laws, policies and ordinances. As of this writing, the next Portland municipal election is scheduled for May 15, 2018.
Portland City Council Agendas (upcoming agendas are accessible from a sidebar link on this page) and City Council Session and Public Meetings Archived Video
Additionally, Portland is organized into 95 officially recognized neighborhoods. These neighborhoods and the city government as linked via Portland's Office of Neighborhood Involvement and the (volunteer) City-funded neighborhood associations of each of the neighborhoods.
The neighborhood associations are further collected into seven geographically-grouped district coalitions (with two exceptions, Healy Heights and Lloyd District) through which the City's funding flows:
- Neighbors West-Northwest (NWNW)
- Southwest Neighborhoods, Inc. (SWNI)
- North Portland Neighborhood Services (NPNS)
- Northeast Coalition of Neighborhoods (NECN)
- Central Northeast Neighbors, Inc. (CNN)
- East Portland Neighborhood Office (EPNO)
- Southeast Uplift Neighborhood Program (SE Uplift)
Resident-led advisory boards and commissions, appointed by members of the City Council following an application process, also play a critical part in the governing of the city. These bodies review, debate, and comment upon city policies and legislation and make recommendations to the City Council.
Of relevance here are the following:
Design Commission - "The Design Commission, authorized under Portland City Code 33.710.050, provides leadership and expertise on urban design and architecture and on maintaining and enhancing Portland's historical and architectural heritage."
Building Code Board of Appeals - "The Building Code Board of Appeals is authorized under Portland City Code 24.10.080 and the State of Oregon Structural Specialty Code."
Floating Structures Board of Appeals - "The Floating Structures Code Board of Appeal will consisting of six members and six alternates who are knowledgeable about construction as regulated by the base building codes and the construction and maintenance of floating structures and moorage facilities."
Historic Landmarks Commission - "The Historic Landmarks Commission provides leadership and expertise on maintaining and enhancing Portland's historic and architectural heritage."
River Community Advisory Committee - "The River Community Advisory Committee is a citizen advisory body, comprised of six members who represent a variety of floating structures interests."
The Greater Portland area (including the City proper) is further administered as a region by Metro, the United States' only directly elected metropolitan planning organization. Metro is a chartered organization that was put in place via state-wide ballot measure in the late 1970s. Metro's structure includes a council-president elected region-wide, an auditor (also elected region-wide) and six councilors elected by district. Portland is represented by four of Metro's districts/councilors (the organization serves twenty-five municipalities in Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas Counties): Districts 1, 2, 5 and 6.
Metro's mandate covers mapping (GIS), coordinating urban development, transportation, and land use planning, managing natural resources, and solid waste management. Metro owns and operates the Portland Center for Performing Arts, the Oregon Zoo, the Oregon Convention Center, and the Portland Metropolitan Exposition Center (aka the Portland Expo Center).
Metro oversees a 50-year regional growth masterplan (the 2040 Growth Concept) for the Portland metropolitan area that as of this writing (2017) can be characterized as focused on increased density, transit-oriented development.
The Port of Portland represents another layer of regional government. It oversees Portland's port and terminals, marine operations in and around the City, Portland International Airport (PDX) and smaller regional airports as well as several industrial parks. The Port of Portland is managed by a nine-member commission, whose members are appointed (for four-year terms) by Oregon's Governor and approved by the State Senate.
Multnomah County, in which Portland sits and is the county seat, manages many of Portland's services (including the Multnomah County Library system). Multnomah County is governed by a Washington and Clackamas counties also form part of the Greater Portland metropolitan area.
The County is administered by an elected commission that consists of a Chair, four Commissioners, the District Attorney, the Sheriff and an auditor. The County government includes a circuit court. Appointed officials fill its Finance, Elections, and Surveyor roles.
Much of the legislation that relates to housing, transportation, development and land use in Portland is ultimately determined at the state level, in the state legislature in Oregon's capital, Salem.
Like the United States federal government, Oregon's state government consists of three branches:
- Legislative branch, represented by the House of Representatives (sixty members elected to two-year terms) and the Senate (thirty members elected to four-year terms) of the Oregon Legislative Assembly (popularly termed the Oregon State Legislature)
- Executive branch, represented by the states administrative apparatus and its Governor. Oregon governors serve four-year terms and are limited to two consecutive terms of office. As of this writing, the next gubernatorial election is scheduled for November 6, 2018.
- Judicial, led by the Head Chief Justice of the Oregon Supreme Court.
See list of enacted Oregon legislation relating to housing, transportation, development, and land use.
Public and Governmental Resources
Housing, land use, urbanist, YIMBY, & tenant organizations
(see also YIMBY Organizations Directory > Portland).
- Portland for Everyone (pdx4all)
- Portland YIMBY (@PortlandYIMBY)
- PDX YIMBY (Yes, In My BackYard) - Facebook group.
- Portlanders for Parking Reform (aka Portland Shoupistas) (@pdxshoupistas)
- Sunnyside Neighborhood Association
- City Club of Portland
- Oregon Walks
- Fix Our Streets Portland
- Portland Tenants United
Mission Statement "The mission of Portland Tenants United is to build power and solidary among the tenant class throughout the Portland metro region as a member-driven tenant union. Through organizing, direct action, coalition building, and civic engagement, Portland Tenants Union fights to keep people in their homes, and to achieve dignity and security for all tenants." (- accessed at pdxtu.org 9/13/18).
- Community Alliance of Tenants (Oregon)
"CAT is a tenant membership organization. Low-income tenants – predominantly low-wage workers, families with children, people living with disabilities, seniors, and people of color – are CAT’s primary membership base. CAT is building a strong housing justice movement that is led and directed by those who are most impacted by Oregon’s affordable housing crisis – low-income renters."
- McCann, Fiona. "The Essential Portland Bookshelf: 32 Books That Define Our City and State." Portland Monthly, December 2016.
Marshall, John. "Books Convey The Spirit Of Northwest." (Sidebar: "The 12 Essential Northwest Books"). Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Aug. 10, 1997.
Powells Books. "Required Reading: 40 Books Set in the Pacific Northwest." PowellsBooks.Blog, March 10, 2014.