Felicia Williams on Neighborhood Empowerment

“Portland’s neighborhoods have the local knowledge necessary to know if an idea will work."

This post is the fourth in a series based on our interview with Felicia Williams, City Council Candidate for Position 3. More on Felicia here.

Q: What’s your experience with Portland’s neighborhood politics?

Felicia:  I joined the Downtown Neighborhood Association (DNA) Board of Directors in 2010, and have served as president since 2011. I also represent the DNA on the Neighbors West-Northwest (NWNW) Coalition Board of Directors and have spent the last two years as the NWNW Board president.

After being actively engaged with Portland City government for the last decade, I understand how we can improve our government

Q: If elected, what will you do to include neighborhood associations in the initial conversations about plans that affect their neighborhood?

Felicia: In 2011, my first term as DNA president, we asked the City for a loo in our park because we had problems with people peeing everywhere.  However, we also understood that a loo was going to be a shoot-up site. With that in mind, we walked around with Water Bureau and Parks Bureau reps suggesting sites.  There was one block that we specifically asked them to NOT use because it was in front of a daycare. Guess where they put the loo? Now the daycare staff have to pick up needles before they allow the toddlers to play in the park.

Neighborhoods have the local knowledge necessary to know if an idea will work and they are designed to be partners with city bureaus. As a neighborhood volunteer, I will absolutely continue listening to neighborhood volunteers and their input will inform my decision making.

Q: Please discuss the balance of City Council representation for Southeast and North Portland.  Would you support changing the City’s charter to allow for district-based representation?

Felicia: We absolutely need to change our form of government and that requires a City Charter change.  The commission form of government clearly DOES NOT WORK. I think we should have geographic districts based on population and a mayor elected by the entire City.  No more commissioners running bureaus, no more dysfunctional government.

Q:  When the Yellow Line was constructed in North Portland, many people of color and impoverished renters, homeowners and business owners were displaced. What is your plan to not repeat the same mistakes in the SW Corridor?

Felicia: The Yellow Line gentrification was not unique to Portland, but we have learned from the mistakes we made.  -I support the SW Corridor Equitable Housing Strategy.  Portland is being proactive with the zoning with the Better Housing by Design project, which will change the zoning along the SW Corridor to accommodate higher density residential areas, which preempts the displacement we saw with the Yellow Line.

Q: What would you do to deliver on the long ignored promises of pavement and sidewalks for the miles of unimproved streets in Southeast and East Portland?

Felicia: This one is easy. The City has already collected revenue that can be used for adding sidewalks and paving unpaved streets: System Development Charges (SDCs).  All we have to do is take $4 million of SDCs from the Portland Bureau of Transportation and $4 million of SDCs from the Bureau of Environmental Services (the sewer bureau) and within two years all of the sidewalks and paving would be finished.  That’s all it takes: $16 million, two years, and the political will to do it.

Q: Any Portland stories from the campaign?

Felicia: I had an interesting exchange of emails with a Portland voter who lives in Clackamas County.

He wrote me: “Dear Felicia, I rec’d my voter’s pamphlet yesterday. I note three candidates with messages for Portland City Commissioner Position 3. Yours is not included. Was that your decision or an error in the pamphlet?”

I replied:   “Thank you for contacting me regarding the Voters Pamphlet. Our campaign looked carefully at the costs of of being in the Clackamas County and Washington County Voters Pamphlets ($600) and concluded that is was cheaper and likely more effective to go to each voter in those areas of Portland and personally hand deliver a high quality Voters Pamphlet card  than it would be to pay to be included in the Voters Pamphlet. Not only is this fiscally responsible, but it also comes with the added benefit of being able to meet voters where they are so l can learn more about the challenges of living in the odd twilight zone areas of Portland. For context, there are approximately 160 households in Clackamas County that are Portland voters and 274 households in Washington County. I hope to meet you this weekend!”

He responded, “Thx for your reply. Your assessment makes sense. And is, perhaps, revealing re: your opponents. I won’t be home Saturday. Ducks spring game in Eugene. Sunday we have an event in the AM at Oaks Park …. Stop by and I’ll buy you a registration and a Tee if you want. Big crowd of voters you could meet. Text me and I will let you know where to meet me.”

Everyone has a Right to Feel Safe in Portland ~ Felicia Williams

Everyone has a right to feel safe in Portland

This post is the second in a series based on our interview with Felicia Williams, City Council Candidate for Position 3. More on Felicia here.

Q: Many Portlanders are concerned about crime and livability — they’re tired of  theft, drug dealing, and garbage and litter— how do you address those issues?

Felicia:  – My first priority is increasing police staffing levels. Have you ever called 911? Did you get a quick response? Right now the typical wait times range from 3 minutes up to 15 minutes, and police response times can range anywhere from 9 minutes to over an hour. The current police staffing shortages put all of us at risk.

You can find data on police response times here.  And sort it by neighborhood

Q: What would you say to those that oppose increasing police staffing?

Felicia: The police staffing shortages also mean that we no longer have community policing foot patrols, or enough officers working in the Behavioral Health Units and Enhanced Crisis Intervention Teams to respond to people experiencing mental health crises.

Our emergency dispatch and police staffing numbers have reached critical levels and it is affecting how quickly people receive emergency services when they need it most. No one wants to wait on hold when they call 911 or have an exhausted cop at the end of a sixty-hour work week showing up in a moment of crisis.

Q: Where would the staffing funds come from? Would you take it from Parks & Rec?

Felicia: Portland Parks & Rec has multiple sources of independent funding, including that recent bond measure. In looking at many years of their budget, it’s clear that the biggest challenge with Parks is that they make cuts every year, but when they get a windfall, rather than reinstating previous cuts they choose to start new programs. By contrast, the Police and BOEC are general fund bureaus and therefore every penny of their funding has to come from the general fund. Focusing on core services and funding them adequately is the basic responsibility of the City Council.

PDX Winter Light Festival Coming to North Park Blocks

North Park Blocks is proud to host the 2018 Winter Light Festival. (Feb 1-3) Visitors will see installations at Froelick Gallery, WeWork, RACC, Elizabeth Leach Gallery, Blackfish Gallery, PDX Contemporary, PNCA and The Society Hotel. More about installations around North Park Blocks: Hub C

“Lumascope” by 2.ink Studio photo by Amy Sakuri

This year, we are honored to present more than 100 artists and organizations from all across the Cascadian region. The 2018 festival is truly citywide, with Festival Hubs and Affiliate Locations showcasing illuminated art installations, vibrant performances, and stunning kinetic fire sculptures throughout Portland.

As always, we are fully committed to keeping the Portland Winter Light Festival family-friendly, free to attend, and open to everyone. So bundle up and celebrate the power of light and community with us!

Why During The Winter?

Inspired by light festivals around the globe, the Portland Winter Light Festival, a Willamette Light Brigade event, aims to counteract the city’s tendency to hibernate during the winter. The festival brightens up the winter skyline and brings warmth to the outdoors with dazzling displays of light, color, and imagination. Bundle up and celebrate with us!

Free, All Ages Event!

The Portland Winter Light Festival is interactive, family-friendly, and designed to inspire adults and kids alike. Combining art and technology, people of all ages will find something to capture their spirit and fill their minds with imagination and wonder.

City Ignores Old Town Concerns About New Shelter

375 NW Hoyt at 4th Ave

Reposted from Old Town Chinatown Community Association doesn’t want city’s proposed homeless shelter by Lyndsey Hewitt Portland Tribune Sept 20, 2017 Link

The Old Town Chinatown Community Association has one word for the city and county’s proposed 200-bed homeless shelter at Northwest Hoyt and Northwest Third Avenue: Nope.

The city plans to proceed despite the association’s lack of support and objections from many community organizations.

Read Old Town Chinatown Community Association’s letter to city and county

Note: There are currently seven homeless shelters and centers in the Old Town Chinatown area alone. An agreement called the No Net Gain agreement was established to mitigate adding more services there.

OTCTCA say they recognize that the city is in a homeless crisis, but that overconcentration of homeless services in that district — which has the highest number of homeless individuals sleeping on its streets on a given night, at around 350 — poses a detrimental impact to the neighborhood, inviting crime and a negative effect on business and tourism.

“As you saw in our presentation during the September 6th meetings, Old Town Chinatown has the highest crime-rate concentration in all of Portland. You also heard the feedback from our residents that they are not just fearful for their lack of safety and security, but are pleading with the City for more support after having a neighbor recently stabbed to death, watching open drug deals on our streets, and the recent drive-by shooting on NW 4th and Everett,” the statement reads.

Our neighborhood knows first-hand the unintended consequences of services and shelters being over concentrated in a single area. The issue is not with those receiving services or seeking shelter, but rather with those who prey on vulnerable populations. Drug dealers, sex traffickers, and gangs often target those seeking services, resulting in a confluence of chaos and lawless behavior. In the midst of this chaos, businesses continue to try and operate, tourists visit and watch in shock, and Clean & Safe and Portland Police attempt to respond to the countless calls they receive to this one neighborhood. Homeless people are some of our City’s most vulnerable, and are frequent victims of violence and lawless behavior. Until there is a sizeable decrease in crime in Old Town Chinatown, it is irresponsible for the City to propose that 200 new permanent shelter beds be located here. Consider these statistics that can be found on portlandmaps.com for 203 NW 3rd Avenue, Portland, OR:

  • From August 2016 – August 2017, the average Person Crimes total for Old town Chinatown was 252 incidents. The city average is 2.
  • From August 2016 – August 2017, the average Property Crimes total for Old town Chinatown was 511 incidents. The city average is 15.
  • From August 2016 – August 2017, the average Society Crimes total for Old town Chinatown was 329 incidents. The city average is 2.

But the biggest reason for their resounding no is linked to previous promises made between the city and Old Town/Chinatown associates — the No Net Gain agreement, a deal made back in the 1980s to prevent more homeless services concentration there.

“That is inconsistent with everything the City has told us over the years. It is hypocritical to continue concentrating high-needs, homeless individuals in this neighborhood using the circular reasoning that there are already services here that they need to access, and it is irresponsible to continue steering vulnerable people into the lowest-income, highest crime area of the City,” their letter reads.