What good is a neighborhood association?

In Portland, we have a unique way of governing our city. With a mayor and 4 city commissioners, elections and politics can be interesting, but there are some other quirks.  One is our Office of Neighborhood Involvement (ONI) and the neighborhood system. Eliot is a member of the Northeast Coalition of Neighborhoods (NECN), which receives ONI and other funding to voice concerns from northeast Portland.

The Eliot Neighborhood Association (ENA) has been a primary contact point between residents and the City of Portland since 1969. A number of neighborhood associations formed in Portland around that time for 3 reasons: urbanization plans in inner neighborhoods, new planning practices, and increased federal requirements for citizen involvement.

Over the years, the ENA has weighed in on many city decisions and organized many, many events.  We have two main roles. We are a grass-roots citizen involvement system and a bottom tier of city bureaucracy. The city comes to us for input on projects of all sizes and flavors, and we are a place where citizens can drive issues and advocate for change and improvement in our neighborhood. If we have concerns bigger than just our neighborhood, we often bring them to the NECN to get a larger voice.

Made up of residents, business owners, non-profit workers and others who care for our neighborhood, the ENA has the power to appeal city decisions and strives to be a force for good in the neighborhood. We review plans for development, support charitable organizations and events, garden in the community, sit on city committees, receive crime reports and interact with our neighborhood police officer, and talk to city representatives. We can provide support, guidance and sometimes funding to citizen-suggested events, community gardening efforts and we try to address citizen concerns. We fundraise through our neighborhood cleanup once a year (May 19, 9am-1pm).

On April 9th, we will have a representative from Portland Public Schools headlining our meeting. Drop in to see your city and neighbors in action. The ENA board meets the 2nd Monday of every month. Please visit our website for agendas and more information. I’m looking forward to meeting you there.

Map of NECN Neighborhoods