Candidates Forum

Question 1

Portland’s history and distinctive architectural character are a source of pride for locals and the most common reason tourists come to visit here. In 2017, Travel Oregon’s survey revealed that 38% of our visitors came here to visit historic places, and in 2012, Travel and Leisure ranked Portland 9th among major US cities for the appeal to tourists for its interesting neighborhoods.

Sarah Iannarone, candidate for Mayor

As a former board member of the City Repair Project, founder of the Arleta Triangle Project, and current board member of the Halprin Landscape Conservancy, I am proud to have contributed to the preservation and creation of some of Portland’s beloved places.

In the post-COVID world, business as usual is no longer an option, so I have released a plan for Portland’s recovery that in fact does outline our economic priorities for the future. Of relevance to your travel and tourism would be the section on investments in a thriving cultural and creative economy.

Let’s be clear– Portland is not a global finance center like London or New York and we don’t have a West End or Broadway; Portland is a land of small things popular for compact walkable neighborhoods with indy local businesses, richness in community amenities, a vibrant food and beverage scene and access to nature. Our popularity rests in our creation of a good place for Portlanders and we will be desirable to tourists if we focus on these elements.

Teressa Raiford, candidate for Mayor

Tourism post COVID-19 will be an important component in re-establishing our economy and the sustainability of local businesses that depend on it. Our film and travel industries help sell Portland but the city has to show leadership towards an investment that supports these businesses. As someone who is inspired by the educational assets of architecture and old Portland design I am interested in developing resources for publishing, surveying and restoration of properties that tell our shared stories. These initiatives provide educational and economic advantages to diverse communities. I believe rehabilitated buildings bridge gaps for housing, small and local businesses and sustained access to community. Portland must remain a top destination for heritage tourism as it not only brings in continuous revenue for our city, but educates our communities and builds a proclivity towards cultural appreciation and preservation. It is critical now more than ever to highlight the diversity of Portland.

In my efforts to save the Burger Barn I worked directly with Catherine Galbraith with AHC and became aware of my community’s heritage as outlined in “Cornerstones of Community”. Preservation programs also foster community pride, learning, and creativity, thus making historic neighborhoods desirable places to live and work. Beyond protecting history and improving aesthetics, preservation also creates cultural vitality and defines community identity, which helps communities attract visitors and engage volunteers. Historic preservation rehabilitation creates more jobs than new construction does. Portland is part of the paradigm shift recognizing Black historic sites as architecturally significant.The city must get innovative and lead by example while highlighting our assets.

Mark White, candidate for Mayor

I have a paper on my campaign site titled, Optimizing Portland’s Food Industry and Addressing Food Insecurity, that would be a great companion to this existing tourism component.

There’s quite a difference between neighborhoods within the City, especially with regard to equity and parity for those with massively disproportionate amounts of vulnerable and marginalized residents. I’m definitely interested in the possibilities with our historic places, but my main focus will be in increasing equity and parity for those who live in long neglected low income neighborhoods. We can discuss how to bring the two sides together as we work on delivering that equity to all Portlanders.

Corinne Patel, Commissioner Position 1 candidate

I believe the deconstruction code should be updated to preserve homes aged 75 years or older instead of codifying a year built date. I would also like to see the city better connect residents who wish to preserve their homes with financial resources to do so.

Tera Hurst, Commissioner Position 2 candidate

It is clear to me that only some of our neighborhoods are benefiting from the economic benefits of tourism. I want more of our neighborhoods that have historically been under invested in to share in some of the benefits of tourism. That means making basic investments like sidewalks for East Portland. These neighborhoods need investments that build up their unique character and that are self determined by the communities that inhabit them. Another key factor in this is the expansion of public transportation. Tourists to our city need to be comfortable taking transit so that they can visit the many beautiful neighborhoods for which we are so well known. Finally, I think we need to expand the greenways and move towards making them pedestrian only. I think that this positively contributes to the character and livability of all of our neighborhoods and will contribute to lowering congestion, keeping our air clean and keeping families on bikes safe.

The other thing I am increasingly concerned about is our small business community. Much of the character of prominent neighborhoods in our city comes from the vibrant and unique businesses that inhabit them. I am very concerned that these small businesses will not be able to weather the COVID-19 recovery without help from the city. Many of them will be able to survive if they get a little help from somewhere. Those that cannot get help from the state or the federal government will need help from the city. i hope we can save as many as possible so that our most tourist friendly neighborhoods can keep the lively characteristics that make them destinations.

Julia DeGraw, Commissioner Position 2 candidate

Portland has so much to offer residents and tourists. Our distinctive neighborhoods, food carts, small independent shops and restaurants, and an incredibly vibrant independent music scene all entice tourists to visit our city. The character of our neighborhoods are defined by so much, including their architecture. I think there’s value in preserving our beautiful old houses and buildings, just as we preserve trees. However, we have to balance building preservation with the need to build more densely to accommodate a growing city with a housing crisis. Likewise, I don’t believe that historic preservation and increasingly the supply of affordable housing are incompatible goals.

I agree with the sentiment found on your website that great consideration should go into deciding whether or not to demolish a building, and I agree that new construction should try to “fit” the neighborhood stylistically. It is a tragedy that entire historic neighborhoods were leveled in the 70s and 80s to build a hospital and freeways; the loss of architecture went hand-in-hand with the destruction of Portland’s historic African American neighborhoods.

It’s difficult to talk about increasing tourism during the novel coronavirus pandemic; we will likely be living with this virus for at least a year as we await a vaccine or effective treatments. In the short-term, we must focus on keeping families and businesses afloat; the tourism and real estate industries will face hard recoveries if local businesses go under and people can’t afford to stay in their homes.

I like the idea of repurposing old houses for office space or multi-unit/co-housing dwellings. The challenge there can be helping business or homeowners find the resources to restore and maintain these structures. Groups like AHC and others could help fill that gap, along with incentives provided by the City for historic preservation.

Diana Gutman, Commissioner Position 2 candidate

Our city consists of many diverse and historic landmarks ranging from parks to schools, buildings and residential districts. It is my opinion that promoting tourism while we are facing a pandemic is unwise. I believe that the best plan of action for Portland to take when it comes to protecting tourism is continuing to practice social distancing until the COVID-19 pandemic has been resolved. These are tough times and public safety is of the utmost importance. We should want to promote how we are protecting our residents during the pandemic. We cannot ignore that times after the pandemic subsides, things will not be the same. When looking to and adapting for the future I believe that it’s time for Portland to do away with historic buildings that represent and symbolize discrimnination baised off of sex, race and ethinic background- for example the Arlington Club. This club is memorialized despite being the social safe haven of the powerful and wealthy white men to hide from women and Jewish males. This is shameful. It’s time that we as a city address our racist history and acknowledge our city’s failings by taking action in our government to heal our community. As an Indigenous woman and your prospective Commissioner I will push to amend outdated racist policies and implement new inclusive policies that will enrich our communities and allow our city to thrive.

Sam Chase, Commissioner Position 2 candidate

The distinct character of Portland is what makes it attractive to both tourism, which brings much needed outside dollars to our region, and to attracting and retaining high quality employees–which fuels the success of our workforce and economy.

Preserving our historic neighborhoods and their main streets, our landmark structures, and our historic homes will support our ability to rebuild from our current pandemic and beyond. I’ll make sure residential infill is implemented in a way that protects our historic infrastructure, and fits the character of the neighborhoods in Portland historic tradition of including a range of housing types as it did in the 19th century and first half of the 20th century–not mega single family houses, but homes that add to the character and well-being of our community.

Aquiles U Montas, Commissioner Position 2 candidate

Work with neighborhoods, local historians and the tourism leaders to create events to promote each area to bring more outside and local tourists. To protect and help preserve more from being demolished.

Terry Parker, Commissioner Position 2 candidate

In addition to Portland’s treasured parks and public golf courses, one of the characteristics that makes Portland a beautiful and tourist friendly city is the existing single-family home neighborhoods. Increasing density in these neighborhoods through the Residential Infill Project (RIP) will not only target demolishing the most affordable homes that are already in short supply, but also historic and architecturally significant homes and structures. Additionally, adding density in single-dwelling zoned neighborhoods will eliminate green yards and remove mature trees that produce oxygen thereby destroying the neighborhood environment and ambiance. The greenest buildings are the ones already built. Investing in home ownership is a form of creating wealth that instills pride in neighborhood livability. Most new single-family infill homes being built today are of the mundane cookie cutter variety; either big square boxes with glued on porches or skinny shoe boxes with little to no usable outdoor green space. Change is needed. At the very least, any new structures should match the scale, footprint and setbacks of the surrounding structures. Creating the density of Baltimore won’t draw tourists to Portland. If RIP is passed by the City Council, it opens the door to the kind of neighborhood destruction that is taking place in Vancouver, B.C. where one in every four single family homes being sold is demolished. Greater protections, possibly including financial incentives, are also needed for historic and architecturally significant commercial structures, venues and public attractions. They include but are not limited to many of the older buildings downtown, most of the Willamette River Bridges, the Pittock Mansion, the Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum, the Mt. Tabor Reservoirs and restoring the tracks and right of way of the 50 year old Oregon Zoo Railway so train travel can resume between the zoo and the architecturally significant Washington Park Station.

Mingus Maps, Commissioner Position 4 candidate

The COVID Crisis has added a new dimension to this question. Today, Portland tourism is in crisis and needs help. In the short term, the City needs to work with the tourism industry to minimize the damage that has been caused by the shutdown of our service industries. In the long term, we need to reinvent tourism to accommodate social distancing. And as we reimagine the future of tourism, we must remember, celebrate and honor our city’s past. 

Sam Adams, Commissioner Position 4 candidate

Portland should step up the marketing of historic places and buildings in collaboration with Travel Portland. Travel Portland produces many walking maps and guides to our city. I think tourists would be interested in such a guide about our history and distinctive architectural character.

This can also include joint marketing campaigns around existing annual gatherings, such as the Christmas tree lighting, rose festival, and neighborhood business districts summer festivals.

For historic preservation, in addition to formal designations of places of historical importance I’d like to see the city develop a designation of local historic significance, especially for honoring communities of color, women, Native Americans, and historically marginalized communities.

Aaron Fancher, Commissioner Position 4 candidate

We need to stop tearing down old buildings and house’s and replacing them with big box cookie cutter buildings that are overpriced and unfilled and unattractive.

we also need to help with the ever growing drug and homeless problem that is a threat not only to tourism of our great city but to the longevity of the residence of today and future generations to come.