Candidate Spotlight: Mingus Mapps

Photo courtesy of Mingus Mapps

Candidate Spotlight: Mingus Mapps

Running for Portland City Commissioner, Position No. 4

Thank you to Mingus Mapps for attending our March 5th Candidate Conversation for Candidates for Portland City Commissioner.  Don’t miss candidates for Portland City Mayor on March 31st, 2020!

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Answers to Neighborhood Questions:

1. Homelessness is a crisis in all of Portland, but has disproportionately negative effects in SE and East Portland. Explain how you will address this situation in a compassionate and expedient manner, balancing the needs of both the housed and houseless.

Candidate Answer: I fully support Neighborhood Associations and believe the City must support and empower them to have a voice in their neighborhoods. The homelessness crisis in Brentwood Darlington may be different from the crisis in the Pearl, so the city must invite the input of the associations into the “local solutions”.  Having said that, there are fundamental issues around the homelessness crisis that affect all neighborhoods.

Portland must do better at preventing and ending homelessness.   The most efficient way to reduce homelessness is to prevent people from losing their housing in the first place.  In addition, we must help get the mentally ill and those in need of medical care off the streets and the help they need .   We cannot police our way out of the homelessness.  Instead, we need smarter and more humane solutions that address the myriad of challenges to our housing crisis.

Some tactics I support include:

Prevent Homelessness in the First Place

  • Ban price gouging in the rental market.
  • Increase funding for short-term rent assistance programs

House and Heal the Disabled and Mentally Ill 

  • Create 1,300 units of city-subsidized supportive housing for chronically homeless people, who are also disabled, mentally ill, and/or drug addicted.

A Housing First and Compassionate Approach

  • Homelessness is not a crime.
  • Portland Police should not be the first and primary outreach to the homeless community. It is bad service and bad public policy.

More Affordable Housing and Services

  • Multnomah County needs about 29,000 more units of low-cost and affordable housing.  

2. With the implementation of the Residential Infill Project, there will be a lot of new development in areas with larger lots like SE and East Portland. How will you create opportunities for and encourage the development of affordable and accessible housing, while also guarding against displacement and gentrification?

Candidate Answer:

It is critical that new density programs such as the Residential Infill Project actually achieve their desired outcome of creating more affordable housing. I have concerns that if not implemented correctly, it will become a boon to developers.

Multnomah County has a shortfall of 29,000 units of affordable housing.  Several factors are behind this deficit.  In recent decades, Portland’s population has grown dramatically, driving up the demand for housing.  Wages for Portland’s working families have not kept up with rising housing costs.  Despite enacting a housing emergency, Portland city government has done little to make it more affordable to build in Portland, protect renter’s rights and ensure the current housing stock meets the needs of the general and underserved populations.

We must:

  • Create policies that incentivize the building more affordable housing, including fee reductions, quicker inspections, and streamlining the building permit processes.
  • Preserve our existing stock of affordable housing.
  • Protect the rights of renters.
  • Build more densely, especially along commercial corridors with good access to public transit.  
  • Expand partnerships with community development corporations to build more low-cost housing for individuals and families
  • Find ways to incentivize local builders who have a long term interest in seeing Portland grow and thrive for all.

3. SE and East Portland have by far the greatest number of unimproved roads in all of Portland. Brentwood-Darlington alone has over 4 miles. How will you rectify this infrastructure imbalance without cost-burdening an already historically underserved area?

Candidate Answer: Representation matters. I believe in changing the city charter so that members of City Council are elected by district. This will provide a local voice of BDNA and adjacent neighborhoods with a direct representative on the City Council. I support reforming the charter when it comes up for review in 2021.

In the meantime, the City Council must listen to the needs of all constituents, not just the ones with the loudest voices and the most expensive (and carbon producing) means of transportation. I understand what it feels like when the local government seems to ignore you and your community – and on the City Council I will be a loud voice for underrepresented and marginalized communities – especially when it comes to transportation needs.

4. Portland Bureau of Transportation has been installing many traffic calming measures and lowering speed limits all over SE and East Portland. How will you provide the means to enforce these new measures, despite staffing level challenges?

Candidate Answer: Speeding is a problem which impacts not only safety but quality of life in a neighborhood. Portland has too many traffic related fatalities and injuries. I support Vision Zero and its implementation. However, enforcement has been lacking primarily due to low staffing levels in police departments. We must fix staffing levels in police departments and get the police out of the business of being first responders to mental health crises, so they can focus on public safety issues.

Our commission form of government does not lend to this either, when important bureaus involved in the process like PBOT and PPB are housed under separate city council members, who don’t get along or don’t want to coordinate, it causes a failure in the implementation of these programs.

5. Garbage and graffiti are ongoing issues in SE and East Portland. What will you do to take the burden of neighborhood clean-up off the shoulders of volunteers?

Candidate Answer: All neighborhoods need a direct voice in city hall. District representatives will help achieve that. In the meantime, I support the funding of the graffiti removal program, which is constantly under threat of budget cuts. Livability issues can not always take a back seat. The city must work with Metro to increase funding for RID (Regional Illegal Dumping) Patrols.

The city must also work with Metro to restore funding to neighborhood associations and coalitions for yearly neighborhood clean up programs. Adequately funding and training crime prevention programs  in Portland and its neighborhoods will also help stop graffiti before it starts.

6. In several areas of SE, illegal activity occurs on a daily basis, often for years at a time. Neighbors continuously report this activity, only to be told that the individual is, in short, not worth arresting. Many of these individuals have had multiple contacts with the police. How will you address the revolving door in Portland’s criminal justice system that allows these chronic conditions to continue?

Candidate Answer: During the past three years, the City of Portland has reduced its crime prevention program and refocused it away from programs such as Neighborhood Watch. This must be reversed and crime prevention made a cornerstone. The city must be responsive to neighborhoods and their individual needs. All citizens should feel safe.

However, public safety is a shared responsibility. While our City provides police services to Portland, Multnomah County is the steward of our jails and is home to the District Attorney and the Sheriff. Our community depends on all of these services working effectively together. 

We must regain the public’s trust. We need to walk the walk of public safety, providing the appropriate response for the real challenges we all see each day. 

We can improve the work we do together with the County by creating a functional public safety system that prevents and solves crime, and holds criminals accountable.

7. Much of the Public transportation in SE and East Portland is infrequent and does not serve large swaths of the area. This creates an imbalance in which our neighbors are forced to drive more and pay a larger portion of the associated costs and taxes. Even neighbors who prefer to take transit, can only do so in certain directions and often not on the weekend. How will you work to rectify the imbalance in transit access in our area?

Candidate Answer: I don’t own a car and rely on public transportation. I know first hand how difficult it is to get around these and other neighborhoods on the bus. Portland claims to be a transit friendly city, and we are in certain places. But we can do better, and we need solutions for today and the future and not rely on the past or the status quo. Both are not sufficient. The City must work with Trimet to identify areas of imbalance, and realign/create additional routes to serve underserved neighborhoods. We must be aware of population growth and ensure our capacity meets demand. Also, Trimet should invest in hybrid transportation stock and electric, when viable. This will cut down on diesel emissions in our neighborhoods.