Photo: Alder version of draft map
Portland’s Independent District Commission (IDC) voted to release their draft district map plan last night, a major step forward to formally establish four geographic voting districts for city council elections. District selection is one of many changes to Portland's election methods and form of government. As defined in the voter-approved changes, the commission is charged with considering the legal criteria and adopting a district plan by September 2023.
The Charter amendments require that IDC vote on a final district plan by August to allow time to prepare for the 2024 election. Nine out of 13 commissioners must approve the district plan for it to be adopted.
The new charter language requires the commission to hold at least two public hearings in each proposed district before voting to adopt a final version of the district map plan. They also must ensure that district maps are consistent with state and federal laws and meet voter-approved district criteria. If fewer than nine commissioners approve the plan, the most recent recommended plan would be sent to Portland City Council for consideration and adoption.
- February 2023: Foundational work
- March 2023: Release draft district criteria for community input and hold public hearing
- April 2023: Deliberate on input received and vote on draft district plan criteria
- May 2023: Deliberate and vote on district maps
- June 2023: Release draft district plan for community input and notice public hearings
- July 2023: Hold eight public hearings, two in each proposed district
- August 2023: Deliberate and vote on district plan
- September 2023: District Commissioners’ terms end
Voter-approved criteria for determination of district boundaries
No district was drawn for the purpose of favoring any political party, incumbent elected official, or other person, or drawn for the purpose of diluting the voting strength of any language or ethnic minority group. The IDC used the voter-approved district criteria which requires that each district, as nearly as practicable:
- be contiguous and compact;
- use existing geographic or political boundaries;
- not divide communities of common interest;
- be connected by transportation links; and
- be of equal population.
Source data for maps informed broad discussion themes
The IDC worked with technical GIS consultants to collect data sets that help inform the criteria and collected input from Portlanders on how they define their community of common interest. The IDC held discussions of the themes informed by a community survey, public comments, verbal testimony, and recent listening sessions. Those themes included geographic proximity, neighborhood boundaries, community facilities and amenities; rivers, natural areas, and landmarks; socio-economic factors; transportation access and infrastructure; east-side representation; unique community needs, cultural and historical significance, inclusivity, and service accessibility.
"As a commission, we are deeply committed to an inclusive, responsive, and equitable process,” said Marta Hanson, IDC Co-Chair. “The three draft maps are a direct result of the feedback we’ve received from hundreds of Portlanders so far. Now, we are eager for as many folks as possible to engage with these draft maps this summer—especially those who have historically been left out of structural decision-making—so we can do our best to craft a final district plan that paves the way for a more inclusive, representative future."
Introducing the map options: rationale for the draft district map plan
The Independent District Commission released three draft maps based on extensive community input. They represent three ways to divide the city into four districts for city council representation and elections.
The maps share the following characteristics:
- All communities east of I-205 are in a single district.
- The Parkrose, David Douglas, Reynolds, and Centennial school districts (the four non-PPS school districts) are in a single district.
- Neighborhoods along the northern part of Portland are in a single district, with the exception of neighborhoods in the Parkrose school district.
- The north and south sides of Columbia Boulevard are in a single district.
- Historic Albina in N/NE Portland is preserved in a single district.
- All communities west of the Willamette River are in a single district.
- The western border of the easternmost district runs along I-205 and 82nd to accommodate the Jade District and Lents neighborhood.
Each of the three draft maps illustrate a different rationale to effectively respond to the district criteria, including preserving communities of common interest. A summary of key differences is below.
Draft Map: Alder
The Alder map is built around preserving established neighborhood boundaries. This map divides the central city among three districts, using the Willamette River and I-84 as boundaries, to promote broad engagement with central city issues and economic opportunities and distribute significant assets and institutions among multiple districts. Neighborhoods in lower southeast share a district with demographically and socioeconomically similar communities on the west side of the river and are connected by the Sellwood and Ross Island bridges.
Draft Map: Cedar
The Cedar map is built around prioritizing transit corridors. This map uses transit corridors such as NE Sandy, SE 12th Ave, 82nd, and MAX lines to prioritize the role of these arterial roadways in influencing the use of public space and notions of neighborhood on the eastern side of the city. Neighborhoods in the central eastside and inner southeast that are bordered by the Willamette to the west and major transit lines to the east (bus and MAX) share a district with neighborhoods on the west side of the river.
Draft Map: Maple
The Maple map is built around keeping much of the central city together, as defined by the city’s Central City 2035 Plan, while preserving historic Albina and adding several inner eastside neighborhoods. The central city includes the city’s most densely populated and urbanized neighborhoods, where residential and commercial uses are tightly interwoven. Eastside neighborhoods with high percentages of renters (Central Eastside, Buckman, Kerns) share a district with westside renter-heavy neighborhoods (Goose Hollow, Old Town, University, South Waterfront) as well as other westside neighborhoods.
Summary of Key Differences
Crossing the Willamette River
- The Alder map crosses in lower southeast only
- The Cedar map crosses in the central eastside and southeast
- The Maple map crosses in the central eastside only
Boundary between N/NE and SE/central districts
- The Alder map uses neighborhood organization boundaries
- The Cedar map uses Sandy Blvd
- The Maple map uses both (Rose City Park is in one district, while Roseway is divided by Sandy Blvd)
How to comment on draft maps
The Independent District Commission invites community input on the draft map options by Saturday, July 22. Public input in any language is welcome. Submit public input to the Independent District Commission by:
- Calling 3-1-1 and sharing comments verbally
- Sending an email to: DistrictCommission@portlandoregon.gov
- Sending a letter to the Office of Management and Finance, Independent District Commission, 1120 SW 5th Ave., Room 901, Portland, OR 97204
- Providing verbal testimony at one of the IDC public hearings hosted on:
- Wednesday, July 5 from 6-8 p.m.
- Thursday, July 6 from 6-8 p.m.
- Saturday, July 8 from 12-2 p.m.
- Sunday, July 9 from 1-3 p.m.
- Wednesday, July 12 from 6-8 p.m.
- Thursday, July 13 from 6-8 p.m.
- Saturday, July 15 from 12-2 p.m.
- Sunday, July 16 from 1-3 p.m.
The District Commission will reconvene in August 2023 to deliberate on input received and vote on the final map. Visit www.portland.gov/transition/districtcommission to learn more about the different ways to comment and public hearing locations.
Source: City of Portland