Gov. Tina Kotek and Dan McMillan, the CEO of insurance giant the Standard, today released their plan to revive downtown Portland. The 10-point plan includes some specific policy changes to quash the open-air drug markets that have flourished in front of vacant buildings since the pandemic.
“We have a set of concrete recommendations, some the first of their kind, others that tap into Portland’s strengths in innovation, collaboration, art, and culture,” Kotek said. “The reward for a strong start is more work. I am committed to this effort and excited to see this work unfold.”
The pair released their plan at the Oregon Business Plan Summit, an annual gathering of the state’s business and political leaders. Kotek and McMillan pulled their group, the Portland Central City Task Force, together this summer to try to combine public and private interests in bringing the state’s largest city back to health.
Today, the two leaders released a 10-point plan to do that. Some ideas are more general, such as increasing shelter capacity and deploying more counseling and direct support services for unhoused people. Some are cosmetic, such as removing plywood barriers and fences around federal buildings, which Kotek and McMillan say “sends the wrong signal to visitors.”
But some recommendations are very specific.
Here are some highlights:
*Kotek wants the state, city of Portland and Multnomah County to declare a 90-day “fentanyl emergency.” That will require the three governments to “establish a command center within the Central City, led by the State, where daily communication, coordination, and triage of the fentanyl crisis will be carried out.”
*Kotek wants to “Ban the public use of controlled substances and reduce barriers to prosecuting drug delivery,” the plan says. “The Legislature should consider legislation to ban public use of controlled substances and to restore law enforcement’s ability to prosecute for attempting to deliver controlled substances to another party based on the amount of drugs in possession.”
*Kotek will ask lawmakers in the February short session for $20 million of new funding for “trash and graffiti removal and prevention.”
*Kotek and McMillan also made a nod to the tax regime in Portland. They would “declare a moratorium on new taxes and offer targeted tax relief, they said, adding a specific ask: “Elected officials should agree to a three-year pause, through 2026, on new taxes and fees.”
More detailed descriptions of the recommendations are here.
The release of the plan comes amid a series of hearings of the Joint Interim Committee on Addiction and Community Safety Response, which is scrambling to head off a potential ballot initiative to repeal parts of all of Measure 110. The committee is debating what tweaks to M110 it can make, seeking a workable compromise between a public angry about overdoses, public drug use and other tangible results of the decriminalization of the personal use of many illicit drugs, and proponents of the measure, led by the Health Justice Recovery Alliance, who want more treatment resources and more time for the measure’s funding to show results.