Last week, WW interviewed City Commissioner Chloe Eudaly about her effort to challenge neighborhood associations, which she says often represent white homeowners and exclude renters, people of color and immigrants ("Chloe Eudaly's Neighborhood War," WW, Sept. 11, 2019). Here's what readers had to say about her.
Laura Frances, via Facebook: "She has a chip on her shoulder about perceived privilege but mistakenly directs it at neighborhood associations, which are grassroots organizations."
James Ta-Dao, via Facebook: "Keep going, Chloe! You're doing good work. It's not surprising that the people that are the most resistant to change are the loudest and rudest."
Eggs Ackley, via wweek.com: "Portland's NIMBYs are a tough nut to crack."
Pdan, via wweek.com: "Part of being an effective leader is diplomatic ability to get people on board with your positions, so her 'style' is inextricably linked with her effectiveness. Eudaly and her staff have been abrasive and unprofessional from day one toward a large part of their constituency, supposedly in the name of 'social justice,' but there are plenty of people out there working on social justice who are also mature and professional about it."
Collin Macfergus, via wweek.com: "I am not the least bit surprised the neighborhood associations, by design, either intentionally or unintentionally prevent access."
Eudaly Plan to Broaden Public Participation Long Overdue
I'd like to weigh in on Commissioner Eudaly's code rewrite proposal regarding broadening public participation. Twenty years ago, while director at Southeast Uplift neighborhood program, I proposed the creation of a policy council separate from the governing board of the nonprofit (in part because the board structure was so unwieldy). The council was proposed to consist of representatives from all the neighborhood associations, plus seats for other key stakeholders that represented minority groups, etc.
The board itself was split on the issue, but I was treated much like Commissioner Eudaly, i.e., accused of trying to destroy the neighborhood system. Nothing was further from the truth. The associations were complaining about the loss of clout vis-à-vis City Hall. The idea behind the council was to create a body that would yield greater power with the city. Those who resisted change of any kind sabotaged this proposal, and here we are, 20 years hence, attempting to come to terms with the fact that many constituencies do not interface with the neighborhood associations.
I applaud the commissioner's courage in taking on an issue that has been a political football kicked down the field for years. Neighborhood associations provide valuable service to our community. I do not view this proposal as taking anything away from those groups, but rather acknowledging those left out of the equation. Portland is not the same community it was when the system was created over 40 years ago. It was true in 1999 and it is even truer today. You can kill the messenger, but it doesn't change the facts.