Oregon Governor Announces Task Force To Fix Portland
Portland, Oregon.
Sycikimagery via Getty Images

Oregon’s governor is creating a task force to fix Portland, the city widely regarded as a poster child for progressive policies.

Oregon Governor Tina Kotek announced in a press release on Wednesday that her executive office will partner with the Oregon Business Council to create the Portland Central City Task Force (PCCTF). Kotek admitted that Portland had earned a notorious reputation, though she attributed the current state of the city to “growing pains” and COVID.

“It’s no secret that downtown Portland has faced an onslaught of challenges in recent years that have tarnished some of the characteristics that people love about Oregon’s largest city,” said Kotek. “Growing pains turned into crises, exacerbated by a global pandemic, and now concerns about Portland have become a statewide economic issue.”

Kotek added that social justice values would guide the PCCTF by collaborating with “diverse voices” for “equitable solutions.”

The task force will have five committees: Vision & Value, Clean Streets, Crime & Vandalism, Unsheltered Homelessness, and Tax Competitiveness. Members have yet to be announced.

Kotek and Dan McMillan — President and CEO of both StanCorp Financial and Standard Insurance Company — will co-chair the PCCTF. The task force will hold meetings once a month from August through October before presenting recommendations at the Oregon Business Plan Leadership Summit in December.

Last October, McMillan stated in an interview that his business hasn’t required relocation to Portland due to its poor reputation.


“Frankly, the reputation through the last two-and-a-half years of the city make it very hard to bring people here,” said McMillan.

Portland’s population shrank for the first time in 30 years, according to census data released earlier this year. The exodus cost the county over $1 billion.

According to Portland crime statistics for 2022, there were nearly 10,200 violent offenses committed against people: about 9,300 assaults, 600 sex offenses, 100 homicides, 90 kidnappings or abductions, and 35 incidents of human trafficking. Property crimes totaled nearly 59,900. Society-related crimes — a vast majority concerning weapon law violations and drug offenses — totaled over 1,600.

The latest data available from January through June of this year reflects a slight decline in crime rates from the same time frame last year: about 100 fewer violent crimes against people (about 4,800 versus 4,900), about 3,900 fewer property crimes (about 26,600 versus 30,500), and about several dozen fewer society-related crimes (about 800 versus 830).

Although there’s been a slight decline in crime overall, the dangers of the city remain consistent. Last week, a female doctor went viral after blaming the city’s “defund the police” efforts for a random attack that left her bloodied and unconscious.

Citizens are also on high alert over a suspected serial killer — one of over a thousand prisoners granted a commuted sentence from former Oregon Governor Kate Brown during the pandemic.

Multnomah County’s homeless population increased by 20 percent from 2022 to 2023 per point in time counts: or, from about 5,200 to 6,300 people. About half of the county’s homeless population is estimated to live in Portland.

Last fall, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler reported a 50 percent increase in homelessness from 2019 to 2022, resulting in over 700 homeless encampments. That prompted Wheeler to announce last October that he would ban the encampments; a month later, the city council voted for the mayor’s plan.

It doesn’t appear that local leadership plans to enforce the ban anytime soon. Although the ban took effect last month, the mayor said he wouldn’t direct enforcement until after the city educated the homeless on the new ban.

In the meantime, homeless encampments remain and more have emerged since.

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