Role of Neighborhood Associations Under Threat
Since 1974, Portland has been a leader in neighborhood-based civic engagement through the city’s Office of Neighborhood Involvement. That relationship is now seriously threatened. Last year under Commissioner-in-charge Chloe Eudaly, the office was redubbed the Office of Community and Civic Life, and a committee was put in place to rewrite City Code chapter code 3.96 to remove any functional role for neighborhood associations in favor of an unspecified relationship with “a list of recognized organizations by administrative rule.”
The Oregonian had an excellent article, Neighborhood associations agonize as Portland moves to purge them from code, which describes in detail the effects deleting this code will have. Two material changes recommended by the committee are the elimination of the requirements that 1) the City inform Neighborhood Associations about land use and planning decisions affecting their neighborhoods and 2) any recognized civic organization abide by the Open Meetings and Public Records rules that give them legitimacy and hold them accountable.
Civic Life will present the proposed code language changes to the City Council for a Work Session and deliberation on October 3. You can add your voice to those who support city-recognized Neighborhood Associations before the vote by signing the petition which states: "Please sign this petition to stop Portland City Council from changing Code 3.96 and eliminating the influence of your neighborhood association." Other ways to state your position on the role of Neighborhood Associations are by writing the City Council and attending the October hearing.
For deeper information about the history of Neighborhood Associations, The Northwest Examiner profiled longtime resident Chuck Duffy who has fascinating insights into our unique system of City Governance, What's Wrong with Portland?:
"For Duffy, it’s no coincidence that city governance in general is in crisis at the same time neighborhood associations are being kicked to the curb. In his view, Portland’s outmoded commission form of government has survived so long because its greatest weakness—lack of district representation—was ameliorated by an exceptionally strong neighborhood association system."
We would love to meet you. Geographically, we are one of the larger Neighborhood Associations and we strive to represent all of our neighbors and neighborhoods, from lower SW Broadway Drive and Gander Ridge, to Green Hills. That means we want you - your energy, your solutions, your voice.
We also discuss whose voices we might be missing, including the elderly and busy parents. Not everybody is at a stage in life in which they can easily come to a meeting. Please know that we regularly check our email and respond to problems and suggestions, and can help neighbors navigate the City Bureaus.
Some neighbors like to work with us on a single event or issue--say park cleanup, the yearly picnic, or perhaps a particular traffic, policy or right-of-way problem. There are many ways to connect.
|(vacant)||President or Co-Presidents|
|John Neumann||Vice-President||May 2017|
|Melanie Billings-Yun||Secretary||May 2019|
Public Safety Committee Chair
|Nancy Seton||Land Use Co-Chair
SWNI Board Representative
|Craig Koon||Land Use Co-Chair
|Roger Brown||Director||May 2019|
|Chris Kopca||Director||April 2018|
|Scott Young||Director||May 2017|
Sally Bachman, Team Leader (as of January 2019)
SW Hills Neighborhood Emergency Team (NET): SWHRLneighborhoodprep@gmail.com
Southwest Hills Residential League (SWHRL)
c/o Southwest Neighborhoods Inc.
7688 SW Capitol Hwy
Portland, OR 97219
Thank you Nancy!
We would like to recognize Nancy Seton's longtime contribtution to the Southwest Hills Residential League. Nancy, also known as "Our Fearless Leader," stepped down this spring as SWHRL's President, a position she has held since 2014. Nancy served as vice-President for the three years prior to becoming President. We thank her for her years of service and appreciate the dedication and conscientiousness she brought to this work.
Although Nancy has stepped down from being President, she continues her work on the Board as our Land Use chair, a position she has also held for several years.
Weighing in on Land Use issues is one othe most important functions of any Neighborhood Association. As required by City Code, the City notifies NAs of land use and planning decisions, as well as construction projects affecting the neighborhood. The Land Use chair then writes a report to the City with the neighborhood's comments. It's a lot of work, and requires experience and expertise in Land Use.
Nancy shouldered those Land Use responsibilities at the same time as being President. Our whole neighborhood has benefitted from the care she brought to this work and the professional tone she set at SWHRL.
The SWHRL Board of Directors says a hearty "Thank you Nancy," and looks forward to continuing our work together.