Hillsdale Neighborhood Association Hosts Discussion on Public Safety, City Council Run-Off Election

[Posted August 12, 2020]


Reduced local police staffing resulting in part from downtown demonstrations and a campaign pitch in a hotly contested City Council race were the main agenda items at the Hillsdale Neighborhood Association online meeting in early August. Click here to watch the August 5 meeting.


Law Enforcement Resources Stretched Thin


Matthew Jacobsen, Acting Sergeant with the Portland Police Central Precinct Neighborhood Response Team spoke at the meeting about policing resources and crime statistics in Hillsdale. The good news is that crime rates in Hillsdale are significantly lower than the rest of the city and have remained stable over the past year.


The bad news is that non-emergency police response time and traffic enforcement are down in Hillsdale as across the city. Due to budget cuts and the detailing of 90 officers and detectives to daily protests around Portland, the number of patrol officers assigned to the area south and west of downtown, including Hillsdale, is down from three officers to one per shift. The result is that citywide average non-emergency response times have increased over the past few months to several hours. Average emergency response times have increased slightly to 7.8 minutes. Traffic enforcement for the entire city consists of 19 officers, and most of those are focussed on high fatality corridors, such as Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway in southwest Portland or Powell Boulevard in southeast.


Recent cuts to the PPB budget eliminated School Resource Officers from Portland Public Schools, including Wilson High School. Asked about the implications of this change for police calls in and around schools, Jacobsen explained that school-related calls will now fall to general patrol officers, rather than a consistent officer assigned to each school. He expressed concern over the loss of the ability to develop rapport and trust with young people who interact with law enforcement.


Concerned about the level of funding for law enforcement in Portland? Sgt. Jacobsen recommends contacting local elected representatives at the city and county levels and sheriff’s office. Voters will decide who will occupy the mayor’s office and one contested seat on the city council in a run-off election on November 3, so now is an opportune time to communicate with those candidates in particular.


City Commissioner Position #4


Mingus Mapps is challenging incumbent Chloe Eudaly in a run-off election on November 3 for seat #4 on the Portland City Council. An invitation to speak to the Hillsdale Neighborhood Association has been extended to Commissioner Eudaly, but no date had been set as of the August 5 meeting.


A graduate of Reed College, Mapps holds a PhD in Government from Cornell University. His academic career includes teaching and research at Harvard, Cornell, Bowdoin College, Reed College, and PSU with a focus on urban politics, public policy, and poverty.


Mapps was the Executive Director of the Historic Parkrose Neighborhood Partnership Initiative from 2015-2018. In his next job he served as Program Coordinator for the City of Portland from 2018-2019, helping to manage the city’s crime prevention program and the neighborhood association system at the Office of Community and Civic Life.


The incumbent Mapps seeks to unseat is in charge of the city’s bureau of Civic Life, where Mapps himself once worked. As reported by several media outlets at the time, here and here, he was fired from that position for refusing an order he disagreed with to discipline a subordinate. Mapps and Eudaly have both said that she was not responsible for his firing (reported by OPB here).


Mapps said that he and his opponent disagree over the fundamental role in city governments to be played by neighborhood associations, of which the HNA is one.


Last year, Eudaly proposed a code change to the charter governing the city’s Civic Life office that would remove specific reference to neighborhood associations. Following loud objections from neighborhood associations and individuals who perceived the change as an elimination of the entire neighborhood association system, the proposed changes were withdrawn and modified. The code revision has now been postponed for at least a year.


Mapps characterized his and Eudaly’s approaches to community engagement via neighborhood associations as diametrically opposed: “Eudaly thinks neighborhood associations are part of the problem; I am convinced neighborhood associations are part of the solution,” he said.


Mapps wants to reform city hall. Moving from our current at-large representation to district elections. The change, he said, would make city government more democratic and ensure representation from all corners of the city. Next, he proposes hiring a city manager to coordinate services across city bureaus to break down the “silos” resulting from our current form of government, in which each bureau is assigned to a city commissioner. In his view, improving communication among city departments is the key to solving complex problems such as homelessness.


Mapps says he will address chronic homelessness by revising the building permit process to speed up approval and reduce fees and to “build affordable housing in communities that are ready for it, along commercial corridors with access to public transportation that won’t diminish the character of neighborhoods.”


If elected, Mapps says he will focus on COVID safety, the economy, renter protections during COVID, mortgage foreclosures, and education during COVID. He supports reforms to policing and says that his experience with the city’s crime prevention program has prepared him to re-invent public safety systems.


HNA meetings have been held virtually over Google Meet since April. Archived versions are available to watch on YouTube (https://swni.org/hillsdale/meetings).


The HNA’s next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, September 2 at 7:00pm. Click here for a link to the agenda, which will contain a link to the meeting.


--Valeurie Friedman


What do you think are important issues for Hillsdale right now? Let us know.