Mayor Ted Wheeler signs fourth emergency order, aims at Portland trash and graffiti

By Alex Hasenstab (OPB)
May 10, 2022 10:57 p.m.

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler signed another emergency order Tuesday in an effort to clean up Portland. It’s the fourth in a series of emergency declarations Wheeler has issued to address homelessness and livability issues.

Wheeler announced the latest state of emergency declaration last week during his 2022 State of the City address, and it will go into effect Wednesday. The three previously issued emergency declarations by Wheeler will also be renewed this week. The mayor’s office says this newest declaration will improve the cleanup of the city because it deals with trash, graffiti, illegal dumping and abandoned cars. It focuses on clean-up work apart from occupied outdoor homeless camps.


The emergency order consolidates city programs that work on such clean-up efforts under Wheeler’s authority, allowing him to reprioritize the work and assignments of city employees. As part of the declaration, the mayor asked the city’s Bureau of Human Resources to help expedite the hiring of additional people to help meet the order’s goals. The mayor also directed the city budget office to prioritize the allocation of resources to support programs that aid in cleaning up the city. That includes supporting budget adjustments or identifying alternate funding sources for clean-up work.


The declaration also activates a new center, the Public Environment Management Office, to oversee clean-up operations. Christine Leon, who currently manages the Development Permitting and Transit Group for the Portland Bureau of Transportation, will lead the new office. Leon’s role will be to designate what the mayor’s office is calling “focused service zones” in each section of the city to focus and prioritize the coordinated efforts. She will also assign coordinators and staff to each focused service zone.

“This is just common sense,” Wheeler said in a written statement. “It puts one centralized command structure over 20 city programs and 8 bureaus, that are currently managed by five different city council members.”

This state of emergency stays in effect through 5:00 p.m. on May 25 unless it’s extended.

Wheeler’s three prior emergency orders, enacted in February and March, aimed at addressing homeless issues in the city.

The first prohibited camping along high-speed corridors and prioritized the work of city crews to post and remove camps in these areas. The second declaration accelerated the process of establishing temporary, outdoor shelters called Safe Rest Villages throughout Portland. And the third activated a Street Services Coordination Center, which connects local agencies and service providers to a singular point of contact to get more houseless Portlanders placed into safe shelter.


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