Transportation and Traffic

My Priority:

There is nothing worse than sitting in traffic on the way home from work, when all we want to do is be home with our families, or driving over the same pothole each morning on our way to work. That’s why we have made street maintenance and traffic high priorities, and, as your Mayor, I am firmly committed to seeing our maintenance plan through to completion.

We are well in to Gresham’s most ambition residential street maintenance and re-pavement program in the City’s history. In total, we will reconstruct 25 percent of Gresham’s residential streets, in addition to our regular arterial street maintenance work. This is the result of carefully prioritizing state and local transportation funding to ensure that it makes it into your neighborhoods, improving safety and livability.

Gresham is also served by light rail and bus lines, and expanding service in currently underserved areas of Gresham is a strong priority, in addition to ensuring that our transit infrastructure is safe and comfortable for its users.

In the coming years, we will continue to keep a close eye on renewal of residential streets, while also ensuring that our connections with I-84 flow smoothly, as well as our connections into Clackamas County. This means careful planning and development through Pleasant Valley, Jenne Road, and along Gresham’s entire southern border.

What We’ve Done:

  • Launched the most aggressive residential street maintenance efforts in Gresham’s history. Now in the middle of a 5-year plan, which will reconstruct 25 percent of Gresham’s residential streets, renewing them for generations.
  • Deployed Smart Grid technology to maximize traffic flow through Gresham’s arterials and major intersections.
  • Worked with regional partners to advocate for expansion of bus services in underserved areas of Gresham and worked with TriMet on the upcoming deployment of Bus Rapid-Transit along Division Street.

 

Parks, Recreation, Children & Families

My Priority:

Gresham’s competitive edge has always been our children and families, and we have worked very hard in recent years to deliver the amenities and services our families deserve. We are experiencing a renaissance in our schools, with improving graduation rates, and the largest rebuilding and school improvement boom in many years, thanks to the voter approval of school bonds.

Our focus on children and families has also resulted in the largest expansion of parks assets in Gresham’s history. Hogan Butte Nature Park immediately became a crown-jewel in Gresham’s parks system, and we were able to work with Gresham residents to deliver the Nadaka Nature Park, the Children’s Fountain at the Arts Plaza, the Gradin Sports Park, Tsuru Island, and new futsal courts across the City.

We created a Youth Advisory Council to bring voices from all of Gresham’s high schools into the City’s decision-making process, and held Gresham’s first ever Youth Summit to hear directly from young people about the issues important to them. Gresham has been on the forefront of youth involvement on the national level as well. I was recently honored to be appointed as the Chair of the National Youth Involvement Task Force with the US Conference of Mayors, to help amplify youth voices across the Country.

In the coming years, I am committed to doing everything possible to deliver the remaining playing fields and complete the community’s vision at Gradin Sports Park, create new, place-making playground equipment in Gresham’s parks, and begin planning and development of some of our long-neglected and undeveloped neighborhood parks as well.

The last few years also brought an unprecedented expansion in partner agencies coming to Gresham to help focus on our youngest residents, with an eye on inclusive recreation and prevention. These include the Boys and Girls Club, Latino Network, POIC, Friends of the Children, and Family of Friends mentoring, which we set up in the Office of Governance and Management at City Hall. My wife Alix and I also launched the Gresham Reads program, which collects donated children’s books from Gresham families, and distributes them at area restaurants, so that Gresham’s youngest residents can focus on early childhood literacy while enjoying a meal with their family. If they like the book, they are invited to take it home with them afterword.

What We’ve Done:

  • Recent years have brought Gresham’s largest expansion in parks and recreation in the City’s modern history, delivered without having to create a new taxing district.
  • We delivered Hogan Butte Nature Park, an incredible regional jewel, in part by scrapping for state and regional funding sources.
  • We helped an outstanding group of volunteers deliver Nadaka Nature Park.
  • We opened the Sports Park.
  • We opened the Center for the Arts Plaza.
  • We leveraged federal funding to build the Children’s Fountain at the Plaza.
  • We completely rebuilt the City’s recreation program from nothing.
    • Summer Kids in the Park, provided at Main City Park, Nadaka, and Red Sunset.
    • Late night basketball for at-risk youth on Friday and Saturday nights at HB Lee Middle School and Friends of the Children.
    • Regular futsal programming and tournaments, and a wide expansion of courts to play on across the City.
    • Formed new partnerships with outstanding non-profits, bringing the Boys and Girls Club, Friends of the Children, and POIC to Rockwood, expanding opportunities for children and families.
    • Opened up a non-profit mentoring program, Family of Friends, right in my office at City Hall, leveraging opportunity and bringing critical youth services to Gresham.

 

 

Quality Careers and Economic Development

My Priority:

The best path out of poverty has always been a good job, and that is why we have worked very hard in Gresham to attract economic investment and quality jobs. The development at the Gresham Vista Industrial Site has been some of the largest-scale economic progress in the entire State and certainly in Gresham’s history. We are now home to global companies like DeBeers Diamonds, Subaru of America, and Medline, in addition to outstanding global employers like Boeing, ON Semiconductor, and Microchip Technology. Not only do these companies bring new jobs, but their investments in Gresham also help boost our tax base, providing resources for critical services like public safety.

Having lead Gresham through the nation’s Great Recession, I know first-hand that our entrepreneurial residents are the backbone of our local economy. Through our Garage to Storefront Program, we were able to clear the way for small businesses during the worst economic decline in our lifetimes. In total, we were able to attract 144 new or expanding small businesses to key commercial areas, filling over 225,000 square feet of previously vacant, blighted retail space.

We have more work to be done. The remaining build-out of Gresham Vista is one of my top priorities, and reinventing core civic areas like Gresham Station, the K-Mart, and Civic Neighborhood are all on the immediate forefront. And don’t worry, my fellow Gresham residents, I will not stop until I cut the ribbon in front of a Trader Joe’s in Gresham!

What We’ve Done:

  • Gresham’s Garage to Storefront Program attracted 144 new or expanding small businesses, filling over 225,000 square feet of previously blighted, vacant storefronts, all during the worst economic decline since the Great Depression. This aggressive program brought success to Gresham while other jurisdictions failed, and created the enduring vibrancy you can still see today in Gresham’s historic downtown.
  • We have also made incredible progress attracting traded-sector jobs and investment, with millions of square feet of high-value industrial development coming to Gresham in recent years, attracting global companies like Subaru and De Beers.
  • We’ve also had success “tapping into” the Portland area’s outstanding craft beer market, with Migration Brewing opening up a brewing facility and taproom in Gresham’s Rockwood Neighborhood this year.
  • We’ve also been successful in fostering new housing starts. In the past three years, we’ve issued more residential building permits than we did in the six prior years combined.  Every side of the affordable housing issue acknowledges, in some way, that supply is a critical piece of the overall affordability conundrum.
  • Our Rockwood Urban Renewal Agency has leveraged $97 million in private investment, helping establish 400 new jobs, and generating $36 million in tax revenue for projects that improve the lives of people in the community.

Sustainability and the Environment

My Priority:

One of my first acts as Mayor was to sign on to the US Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Agreement. I knew that Gresham could make substantial progress on energy efficiency while also making our operations run more efficiently, saving our residents money.  That is exactly what we’ve done.

Breathing clean air, while streamlining our operations and saving money in energy costs, remains an obvious priority going forward. We will continue to work through the City’s sustainability plan to identify opportunities to do right by the environment while trimming the City’s energy consumption portfolio, which has excellent returns-on-investment in all the right shades of green.

What We’ve Done:

  • Transformed Gresham’s Wastewater Treatment Plant, previously the City’s biggest energy consumer, into a net energy producer, by deploying two cogenerator engines and transforming the plant’s methane gasses into electricity. This innovation, one of the first in the country, saves Gresham ratepayers around $800,000 each year.
    • Gresham’s plant also won the US Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Award, a national award given to a community leading the way in sustainability.
  • We replaced all 8,000 of Gresham’s streetlights, converting them to LED fixtures. The savings in energy costs not only paid for the deployment of new technology, but it saved the Streetlight Fund from going into the red, preventing potential future fee increases.
  • We approved Gresham’s first ever Internal Operations Sustainability Plan, showing the roadmap to future savings and environmental opportunity, and committing the organization to pursing these issues rigorously.
  • As Chair of the US Conference of Mayors Energy Committee, I taught communities across America about Gresham’s successes, helping them make progress as well, improving our shared environment.
  • Worked with regional and community partners to deliver new nature parks at Nadaka and Hogan Butte, which showcase Gresham’s outstanding natural assets while preserving habitat and giving residents an opportunity to connect with our outstanding northwest ecology.
  • For the first time in Gresham’s history, we became a Tree City USA, and have maintained this distinction each year since.

 

Homelessness

My priority:

Homelessness is the biggest challenge in local government today. There are many causes, but chief among them is a national opiate and methamphetamine abuse epidemic. There are 4 million needles distributed each year at Multnomah County needle exchanges. That’s over five needles for each person in Multnomah County distributed each year.  Further, there are 3.2 million opiate prescriptions issued in Oregon each year. That is 92 opiate prescriptions for every 100 residents in the state.

While most of the Portland region has turned a blind eye to this issue, Gresham has never wavered in our unambiguous duty to protect our neighborhoods and our families.  As your Mayor, I will always lead with compassion, but I will never turn my back on our fundamental duty to protect our families, neighborhoods, and community livability.

Mental health issues are also strong contributing factors. Between 1955 and 2005, the State of Oregon reduced the number of public psychiatric hospital beds from nearly 300 per 100,000 residents to under 20 beds per 100,000 residents today.  That is a 93.3% decrease in public mental health investment. I will always fight to get our partners in the state and federal government to do their part on this issue as well.

What We’ve Done:

  • Created the “Clean Start” program, which pays previously homeless individuals to clean up vacated homeless camps, tidy up our parks, trails, and rights-of-way, and protect Gresham’s livability.
  • Launched a regular police patrol on the Springwater Trail to protect it for recreational use, when Portland completely abandoned their stretch of the alignment.
  • Hired the City’s first ever homeless services specialist, who has helped hundreds of homeless people get new ID cards and access services to get them off the streets.
  • Toughened the City’s parks exclusions code to help trespass people who commit crimes and break the rules in Gresham’s parks.
  • Passed new City Codes and held the line firmly against illegal camping, both in public spaces, and dilapidated RV’s parked in the right-of-way.
  • Closed down sensitive natural areas adjacent to our neighborhoods to let the environment heal and protect livability.
  • Chartered the Citizen Volunteer Corps, a group of people receiving treatment in Gresham, who are on the front end of rehabilitation, giving them a vocational training opportunity, a daily stipend, and a chance to feel good about giving back to the community.

Safe and Affordable Housing

My Priority:

Our children and families cannot thrive without safe, stable housing. As housing prices have escalated in the Portland metropolitan region, Gresham has remained more affordable than most jurisdictions, but is often still too unaffordable for many families. With around 40,000 households moving to the region each year, and around 20,000 housing units being built each year, it is not difficult to see that the lack of housing supply is heavily impacting housing cost.

In Gresham, we have worked hard on the supply-side of this question. In the past three years, we’ve issued more residential building permits than we did in the prior six years combined.  Every side of the affordable housing issue acknowledges, in some way, that supply is a critical piece of the overall affordability conundrum.

We also launched an Affordable Housing Citizen Task Force, with balanced interests from every corner of the housing debate, and asked the Task Force to carefully explore the issue, analyze potential remedies, and deliver consensus recommendations to the City Council. I am eager to see the Task Force’s final report, and I will closely consider their consensus recommendations for implementation.

What We’ve Done:

  • Gresham is fortunate to have one of the lowest costs of housing in the entire Portland region, with rents being $300 lower, on average, than in Portland, and with one of the lowest median single family home costs. That is why we have had so much success attracting young families.
  • Nonetheless, even that savings is often not enough for people to be housing-secure, which is why we have launched an Affordable Housing Task Force, which will examine all of the issues around housing affordability in Gresham, and make recommendations to the City Council. The Task Force is comprised of people with broad perspectives, from affordable housing advocates, to multi-family property developers and managers, to disabled seniors.  This Task Force, and hard-data, will guide my policy perspectives on this issue.
  • Over 10 years ago, Gresham launched our Rental Housing Inspection Program, which was one of the first in the nation to provide mandatory inspections, meaning that we could get in to more units, and also anonymize complaint-driven inspections to protect renters from landlord retaliation.
    • In total, we have inspected 15,440 rental units since the program was created, discovering around 30,000 violations, prompting landlords to fix the issues and keep dwellings safe and healthy.
    • We regularly get calls from communities across the nation to learn about our successes with this program. Big, progressive cities like Portland are just now starting the process of replicating Gresham’s model.

 

A Growing and Diverse Community

My Priority:

As Mayor, it has been critically important to me that all Gresham residents feel safe, welcome, and have an opportunity to thrive in our community. With one of the youngest and most diverse populations in the Portland metropolitan area, Gresham’s diversity is a huge strength, and we have worked extremely hard to ensure the greatest possible opportunity for all of our children and families.

What We’ve Done:

  • Hired the City’s first ever Director of 21st Century Policing.
  • Worked on the US Conference of Mayors “Mayors and Police Chiefs Task Force” to help create national policy in 21st Century Policing.
  • Opened the City of Gresham up to Summerworks internships at City Hall for Gresham’s young people, giving an excellent opportunity to a very diverse group of Gresham students.
  • The Pathways to Employment program was implemented in recent years to help ensure that Gresham’s kids can compete successfully for City of Gresham jobs.
  • Robust expansion in recreational opportunities, with a focus on inclusion. Late night Basketball available now on Friday and Saturday nights, and regular futsal programming and tournaments available through the City.  Also brought back free summer recreation in the parks through SKIP, which includes structured programming and a free lunch.
  • Signed the National Mayors’ Compact against Hate and Extremism and promoted it nationally.

Public Safety

My Priority:

Since my first day in office, public safety has been a paramount concern for me. That’s why I fought for gang funding from the State of Oregon, which allowed for the creation of the East Metro Gang Enforcement Team (EMGET).  This team does incredible work disrupting gangs and investigating violent crime. That is why Gresham’s 94 percent homicide solve rate is 30% higher than the national average of 64 percent.

In recent years, our public safety focus has resulted in the creation of the Neighborhood Enforcement Team, a cross-departmental group of police and code enforcement officers that focuses exclusively on issues like drug dealing, zombie houses, neighborhood livability, and protecting parks, trails, and natural areas from illegal activity. We also launched a regular police patrol on the Springwater Trail and were able to hold the line and maintain it as a recreational asset, even when neighboring Portland completely abandoned their stretch of the alignment.

I will stop at nothing to garner state and federal resources for public safety, and ensure quick response times. I will also be pushing the State of Oregon to toughen its stolen vehicle statutes in the 2019 session, to ensure that we have the tools we need at the local level to protect your property and hold criminals accountable.

What We’ve Done:

  • Launched dedicated police patrols on the Springwater Trail, to keep it safe and accessible for our residents when Portland abandoned its responsibility to do so.
  • Created the Neighborhood Enforcement Team, a dedicated police resource to solve the stickiest and most complicated issues that impact neighborhood livability, like zombie houses, drug issues, and homeless camps.
  • Helped advocate for and deliver over $3 million in federal funding for police through the Department of Justice’s COPS program.
  • Advocated for the original creation of the state-funded East Metro Gang Enforcement Team, and successfully advocated for regular and continued state investment in this group ever since.
  • Forced TriMet to fund and operate a dedicated police precinct IN GRESHAM to police Gresham’s portion of the light-rail line.
  • Helped secure around $2.5 million in federal funding for firefighter/EMS positions, and their critical lifesaving gear.
  • Deployed the Quick Response Vehicle (QRV) to respond directly to medical issues instead of the big red fire engines, improving response times, efficiency, and quality of service.
  • Oversaw the creation of the Director of 21st Century Policing position, one of the first in the nation, to ensure that Gresham is at the most innovative edge in police services.
  • Worked on the US Conference of Mayors “Mayors and Police Chiefs Task Force” to help create national policy in 21st Century Policing.
  • Created the Citizen Volunteers in Policing (CVIP) Program, using Gresham’s goodhearted volunteers to assist our police officers on a daily basis and help keep eyes and ears on our streets.
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