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The Portland Townsman Posts

Rent Control Wrangling, Extending Shelter Emergency, and the Passage of H.O.P.E – City Council Review 2/5/2024

In a busy but efficiently-disposed agenda, the City Council on February 5th approved a slew of parks projects and appointed a new member to the Public Art Committee. A financial report from Clean Elections shed new light on how public funds were being spent, the city’s HSO defends itself against attacks from the Press Herald, and the limited state of emergency at the Homeless Services Center was extended until June. The city accepted money from the state to continue supporting asylum claimants, arranged for the replacement of a police robot, and the controversial H.O.P.E. program smashed through dissent and into law. All this and more in this edition of City Council Review.


“H.O.P.E.” Explained – Diverting Money from Builders to Landlords?

A last-minute emergency plan to move funds earmarked for affordable housing construction towards housing subsidies for those still in the encampments sparks controversy ahead of the Feb. 5 City Council Meeting. How ought the President’s windfall funds be spent? Should the city subsidize demand, or supply? Should the city hire its own staff, or work through nonprofits? Read about H.O.P.E., the optimistically-named endeavor at the center of all these questions.

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Three Absent Councilors Cause Snow Plowing Delay, Rent Board Report, and Rats – City Council Review 1/17/2024

With only six councilors in chambers on Wednesday, a hoped-for emergency measure to adopt Morningstar Road lacked sufficient votes for immediate adoption, leaving residents of the street with ten chilly days without services. A report from the Rent Board sheds light on as many as 471 non-compliant rental units, and concern for rats in Harborview Park brings out naturalists and pet enthusiasts alike.


Portland, Gaza, and Other Minutiae – City Council Review 1/3/2024

The City Council meeting on January 3rd was shaping up to be a quiet one, but the inclusion of a resolution from Councilor Ali to take a stand on the Israel-Palestine conflict underway in Gaza brought out torrents of emotional comment, both from the public and from councilors. Before getting to this most sensitive of issues, however, the meeting started with a celebration of the bravery of Portland’s finest.

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State of the Schools, LD 2003, and a Surprise Resolution on Encampments – City Council Review 12/18/2023

In the inaugural meeting of the new city council, chaired by Mayor Dion and with Councilors Bullett and Sykes around the dais, a surprisingly lively City Council meeting took place on December 18th, 2023. The State of the Schools address was read, a cadre of unlikely bedfellows passed a surprisingly broad zoning law, and most controversially, the looming sweep scheduled to take place the following day led the council to adopt (wildcat fashion) a resolution against sweeps.

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Councilors and Urbanists, Backed Both by Chamber of Commerce and DSA, Pass Citywide Zoning Reform Over Staff and Mayoral Dissent

Nearly two years after Maine passed LD 2003, Portland finally voted to implement ordinances complying with the new state law – just days ahead of the Jan. 1st deadline. While planning staff originally proposed a narrow order to meet technical compliance without substantial change, Councilor Rodriguez sponsored legislative amendments from the Urbanist Coalition of Portland to align the city’s laws with both the “letter” and the “spirit” of the law. Supporters of the maverick councilor’s actions included both the entrepreneurial Chamber of Commerce and the anti-capitalist DSA, as well as many other voices. What are these changes, and how did they become law? Read on at the Portland Townsman.


Farewell Councilors, Ocean Ave Rezoning, and Six Hours of Order 68 – City Council Review 11/20/2023

After bidding Councilor Zarro and Mayor Snyder goodbye at the end of their terms, and congratulating Mayor-Elect Dion, the City Council took on two controversial issues: rezoning 900 Ocean Avenue to accommodate denser development, and Order 68. This latter issue resulted in 845 pages in written public comment, four hours of spoken comment, and a debate which stretched well past midnight and ended in physical disruption and arrests.

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What are the Amendments to Order 68?

Since our explanatory article on the controversial Order 68 last week, Councilors Rodriguez and Trevorrow have submitted three separate amendments to the City Council’s agenda which alter – subtly but significantly – the body and impact of Order 68. This proposal, which would legalize camping in public spaces for the homeless this winter, will be voted on this evening by the council. If you’re following this story in detail, you’ll want to know all the detailed changes proposed.


A Portland Soccer Team and Shelter Expansion: Round 3 – City Council Review 11/13/2023

In the first City Council meeting since the election, Portland resolves in support of statewide gun control and gains a new sister city in Kenya. Creative Portland hosts their annual meeting, and more aid for asylum seekers is desperately requested. After two rounds of failure, enough votes are finally marshaled to enact a state of emergency at the mega-shelter, allowing for expansion of beds. And a wave of support from young soccer fans in the chamber precedes approval of a deal to bring a minor league soccer team to Portland.

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What is Order 68?

Councilors Rodriguez and Trevorrow have proposed a controversial amendment to Portland’s Code of Ordinances which would legalize camping in public places until May 2024. How, specifically, does this work? Can I trust what I heard online? What do experts have to say about the subject?